Human-Rights Watch Endorses the Palestinians’ Soccer War

September 27, 2016 | Eugene Kontorovich
About the author: Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law, director of its Center for International Law in the Middle East, and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.

As part of Mahmoud Abbas’s overall strategy of using international institutions to wage diplomatic warfare on Israel, 66 members of the European parliament, backed up by a detailed report from Human-Rights Watch (HRW), are petitioning the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) to expel Israeli semi-professional soccer leagues located in the West Bank. Their letter further suggests the expulsion of Israel itself from the league. Eugene Kontorovich comments:

The legal arguments raised in these documents are entirely contrived. They contradict longstanding FIFA practice and create a double standard for Israel. . . .

[T]he HRW report . . . asserts that the local soccer leagues (all quite small-time) are “making the settlements more sustainable, thus propping up” the system. Most of the communities in question are just a few kilometers from the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice line and would remain in Israel in all the major two-state proposals; their residents typically commute to work in bigger nearby cities. It is laughable to think anyone would leave [these communities] if the football league moved a few kilometers down the road. In any case, contrary to HRW’s claims, there is simply no support in international law for prohibiting business in occupied territories, as British and French courts have recently affirmed. . . .

[But] those campaigning against Israel rely principally on a lawyerly claim about FIFA’s rules: the clubs “clearly violate FIFA’s statutes, according to which clubs from one member association cannot play on the territory of another member association without its and FIFA’s consent.”

Curiously, the parliament members and the think tanks that support them do not cite any statutes saying this. And that is because the statutes specifically do not say that. . . . Rather, they deal with de-facto control. This is hardly surprising as FIFA is not a political body and would hardly be expected to, or want to, be forced to decide contentious territorial questions between members.

Read more on Washington Post: