January 18, 2017
Jibril Rajoub 18 January 2017
President, Palestinian Football Association
Dear General Rajoub,
You may recall we met in the Russell Square Hotel several years ago through the good offices of Manual Hassassian.
I am writing to you now about the Israeli settlement football teams, and specifically the FIFA Council’s repeated postponement of taking a decision on the issue. It is by now obvious that FIFA will allow the Israeli Football Association to remain in membership despite the continuing membership of the settlement teams in the IFA itself, and despite your refusal to agree to them playing games in Palestine while they remain in the IFA. FIFA is clearly not going to voluntarily abide by its own rules in this issue.
As you know, we have written to Gianni Infantino, Tokyo Sexwale and Fatma Samoura three times, urging them to bring this illegitimate situation to an end, copying our letters to the FIFA Council members. Other civil society groups have also written. It seems pointless for you to keep trying to persuade FIFA to act in good faith, or for us and other groups to continue lobbying them.
It therefore seems to us that you must now formally table a resolution in the FIFA Council that the Council must enforce FIFA’s own rules and give the Israeli Football Association a simple choice: either to remove the settlement teams from its own membership or be suspended from FIFA. If the Council does not do so, you must then apply to the Court of Arbitration for Sport under the FIFA disputes procedure. The two relevant rules are very clear. You have a strong case.
We are sure you are well aware of two very unfortunate consequences that would follow from the continuation of the present situation. Firstly, at some point in the future at a time of its own choosing, an Israeli government will use it as a precedent for claiming that the international community de facto accepts that the settlements are a legitimate part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Such a precedent would undermine any number of statements to the contrary. Secondly, the fact that you publicly threatened to take the case to arbitration, but never did so despite the situation continuing, will weaken the PLO’s credibility in representing the Palestinians.
We are well aware of Israeli governments’ policy of taking petty revenge on the Palestinians living in the OPT whenever the PLO has recourse to its legal rights, and equally aware that it is relatively easy for us, living comfortably in Europe, to advise you to take firm action. Nevertheless, it does seem now that such action is your only way to end the current situation.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP, Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm)
Arthur Goodman, Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison officer, JFJFP (London)