JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Palestinian Football Association vowed Sunday to push ahead with efforts to have Israel suspended from FIFA following joint talks with the world football body’s president Sepp Blatter in Zurich.
But both sides agreed to continue talking with Blatter, who announced plans to visit the region for top-level talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue ahead of the upcoming FIFA Congress, in Zurich on May 29.
News of the visit was announced by Blatter on Sunday as he met with Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub.FIFA said the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Palestinian FA’s request to suspend their Israeli counterparts at the upcoming FIFA congress which starts on May 28.But the Palestinians said there had been no progress at the meeting, adding they would not be deterred from efforts to have Israel suspended.
“It is clear that the Israeli Football Association is not willing to recognize the PFA as a federation with equal rights and obligations, just as they continue to violate their commitments made before FIFA,” Rajoub said in a statement.”We are therefore determined to continue our path to suspend the Israeli Football Association during the next FIFA Congress.”
Palestine, which has been a member of FIFA since 1998, is currently pressuring world football’s governing body to bar Israel from international competition over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players.It is also protesting the participation in the Israeli national championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The clubs play in the third and fourth divisions.The Palestinians want the matter put to a vote at the annual FIFA Congress where it will only pass if it gets the support three-quarters of the 209 member federations. In a statement, the IFA said the parties discussed “various possibilities for cancelling the Palestinian request to hold a vote on Israel’s suspension at the upcoming congress,” with Eini saying he was “a little more optimistic” after the talks.