January 6, 2017
Dear Mr. Infantino, Ms. Samoura and Mr. Sexwale,
We are writing again about the Israeli football teams based in illegal settlements, following the United Nations Security Council Resolution on settlements, passed on 23 December. The resolution reaffirms the international community’s universal condemnation of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the strongest terms.
It says, inter alia, the settlements, including in East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity”, are “a flagrant violation under international law”, and are a “major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. The vote of 14 in favour to I (US) abstention was telling. In the context of American politics, the US refusal to use its veto power was equally telling.
The resolution reinforces the points we made in our letters of 11 August and 5 October. We note in particular the baseless Israeli argument that settlement teams should not be an issue since they are all located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli security and civil control. In fact, the great majority of the settlements are in Area C, yet that fact does not confer Israeli sovereignty there, and does not in any way mitigate the illegality of the settlements. Accordingly, the resolution makes no distinction between Area C and the rest of the occupied territories.
FIFA will rightly be seen to be supporting an illegal and unjust enterprise, universally condemned by the international community, if it permits the IFA to remain in membership while the settlement football teams remain in membership of the IFA. To do that would be an egregious political statement, however FIFA tried to explain it.
The way to keep politics out of football in this case is for FIFA to apply its own rules. Firstly, the rules prohibit one national football association from operating clubs in the territory of another association without the latter’s consent. The Palestinian Football Association has emphatically not consented. Secondly, the new Article 3 states “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.” The occupation, the illegal settlements and the repressive measures Israel takes in order to maintain them, all violate the Palestinians’ rights to self determination, freedom of movement, access to resources, non-discrimination and others. By allowing the present status of the settlement teams to continue, FIFA would be aiding the continuing denial of Palestinian rights.
Dror Feiler, Chair, EJJP; member, Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm)
Arthur Goodman, Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison officer, JFJFP (London)
c.c. FIFA Council members, Aleksander Ceferin, Theodore Theodoridis