Gianni Infantino, President 26 April 2017
Fatma Samoura, General Secretary
Tokyo Sexwale, Chair, Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine
Dear Mr. Infantino, Ms. Samoura and Mr. Sexwale,
We are writing again about the six Israeli football teams based in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. FIFA has allowed this situation to continue for nearly three years, despite the fact that it clearly contravenes FIFA’s own rules because the Palestinian Football Association has emphatically not agreed to those teams operating it its territory.
The reasons why FIFA should not have accepted this situation are clear enough from our letters of 11 August 2016, 5 October 2016 and 6 January 2017. There is simply no justification for it.
We note from press reports, however, that the Israel Football Association has now invented another spurious argument to justify its position. Apparently it claims that the Palestinian Football Association does not have the right to object to IFA teams operating in its territory because Palestinians do not have permanent borders. Like its other claims, this one does not stand up to examination. The Palestinian state, based on the whole of the occupied territories, exists in international law as the result of a number of United Nations resolutions and Court decisions. The most recent are the International Court of Justice ruling in 2004 that the Israeli separation wall is illegal at all points where it passes through those territories, the United Nations General Assembly upgrading of Palestine to non-member “state“on the basis of the whole of those territories in 2012, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 reinforcing that position in the most unequivocal terms on 23 December last year. That will remain the position until and unless Israel and Palestine agree on border modifications as part of an agreement to end the occupation.
We were dismayed to learn that the Monitoring Committee, meeting on 22 March, failed to recommend that the Israel football Association should be required to rectify the situation immediately.
Instead, we understand the Monitoring Committee merely presented the Council with three “options”, i.e. to retain the status quo with the legal risks arising therefrom, to allow the Israel Federation six months “to rectify the situation of the six clubs in question”, or to request new negotiations between the two sides. The first option is legally and morally unacceptable. The third is useless because the PFA is rightly not prepared to give up its rights and the IFA is not prepared to acknowledge them. Therefore the Council is duty-bound to recommend the second option to the Congress at its meeting on 11 May. The Congress should accept the recommendation, and should then suspend the Israel Football Association from FIFA membership in six months if by then the six teams have not relocated to sites in Israel or been removed from membership by the IFA.
FIFA was deeply compromised by the corruption scandals of recent years and its credibility is only now recovering. It will compromise itself anew if it proves unwilling to enforce its own rules because it allows the Israeli Football Association to continue flouting them.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP, Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm)
Arthur Goodman Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison officer, JFJFP (London)
c.c. FIFA Council members, Aleksander Ceferin, Theodore Theodoridis