Indonesia: 'Impossible' to play Fed Cup tie in Israel

Fed Cup team going ahead with plans to host its upcoming tie against Indonesia, despite reports of boycott.

flag burning indonesia (photo credit: Associated Press)
flag burning indonesia
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Fed Cup team is going ahead with plans to host its upcoming tie against Indonesia, despite reports that the Indonesians may boycott the World Group II playoff series. Reports broke early Tuesday that an Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the team had pulled out of the tie, scheduled for July 15-16 at the tennis center in Ramat Hasharon, to protest Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip. "We are witnessing a military invasion by Israel and the arrest of scores of Palestinian officials," spokesman Desra Percaya said. "It is now impossible to play there." The Israel Tennis Association is planning for the tie as usual. "We have not had any contact from the Indonesian Tennis Federation or from the International Tennis Federation regarding the cancellation of the Indonesian delegation's trip to Israel for the Fed Cup," read a statement issued by the ITA. "Therefore we will continue planning for their arrival on July 13." Israel's Foreign Ministry had no comment. Shortly after Indonesia had been drawn to face Israel back in April, it became clear that arranging the tie could be troublesome. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, asked that the venue be changed to another country, because Jakarta has no diplomatic relations with Israel. However, when the International Tennis Federation refused and threatened fines and a suspension from activities if the team refused to play here, the Indonesian government relented and said it would allow the team to travel here. Indonesia has long supported Palestinian independence and suggestions that ties with Israel be restored are routinely met by large street protests and criticism from religious leaders. Before Tuesday's announcement, the ITA had reported strong ticket sales ahead of the event, which would give local fans a chance to see Shahar Pe'er and Anna Smashnova in action. Pe'er was expected to arrive in Israel late Tuesday evening from Wimbledon, while Smashnova is expected on Thursday. The first full team training session under captain Oded Jacob is set for Friday. The losing team of the best-of-five tie will fall to their zonal group, while the winner will play next year in World Group II. International Tennis Federation officials at Wimbledon said that they had not been officially informed of the Indonesian decision and would make no comment. The ITF has always backed Israel's right to host matches at home. In 1997, Morocco refused to go to Israel to compete in a European-African zone Davis Cup match. Israel won the tie by default, although Morocco was allowed to compete in the Davis Cup the following year after an ITF management committee said it took into account unrest in Israel at the time, which it said affected the Muslim community. As a result of its withdrawal, Morocco was relegated to a lower group in the zone.