Palestinian Soccer Diplomacy Isn’t Just a Game

When FIFA—the international governing body for soccer—held its annual congress in Bahrain last week, the Palestinian Authority hoped it would discuss whether six West Bank-based Israeli teams are in violation of the organization’s rules for playing on “Palestinian” territory without permission from the Palestinian Football League (PFA). The item was removed from the congress’s agenda at the last minute, but Simon Smith argues that the issue is bound to resurface, and more than sports is at stake:

The . . . PFA will no doubt push FIFA to make a decision [about the status of the West Bank leagues] in the future. The problem for FIFA is that whatever it decides will have huge ramifications. . . . A ruling in favor of the PFA would represent a significant international body defining the territory of a Palestinian state, which no doubt is the intention of the PFA’s four-year-long campaign to have this item on the agenda. [Yet] a ruling in Israel’s favor would be interpreted by many as an acknowledgment that the six settlements [where these clubs are located] are part of sovereign Israeli territory. FIFA would like to do neither, and yet if the item is ever brought to a vote, [delegates] are caught in a zero-sum game where they have to make a choice.

Should FIFA rule against Israel, the likely reprimand will be a six-month window to remove the clubs from the Israeli league system or face suspension from FIFA and the removal of Israel’s national soccer team from competitive matches such as World Cup Qualifying.

However, compliance would be perhaps more significant still. If the PFA can remove the settlement’s soccer clubs through FIFA, it might give more impetus to the greater Palestinian aspiration of removing the settlements themselves through the UN. We are potentially seeing a microcosm of the Palestinian strategy to internationalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and once again shirk bilateral negotiations, through the prism of soccer.

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More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, Soccer, Sports

 

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror