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Israel must drop restrictions to avoid ban vote

22 April 2015, 18:13

Zurich - FIFA president Sepp Blatter will travel to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders next month to try to avert a vote to suspend Israel from world soccer's governing body, Palestinian FA (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub said on Wednesday.

Rajoub said he hoped Blatter would be able to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift all restrictions against Palestinian athletes and to treat the PFA as equals.

Also read: FIFA boss says Scottish FA wrong to act in Handball case

He added that he would accept nothing less in exchange for dropping his call for a vote proposing Israel's suspension at next month's FIFA Congress in Zurich.

"The Israeli government must recognise the presence of (the PFA) that operates according to FIFA laws. A committee must monitor whether Israel is abiding by FIFA laws," Rajoub said.

Rajoub has accused Israel of hampering his FA's activities and is frustrated at restrictions he says Israel imposes on the movement of athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and has raised a number of other issues.

Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self rule, and along the border with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip.

But it says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the territories, which requires passage via Israel.

Rajoub said he would await word from Blatter after he meets Netanyahu on May 7 before deciding how to proceed.

An official at the Israeli Prime Minister's office could not confirm that a meeting between Netanyahu and Blatter had been arranged.

"We will accept no compromise that will not secure the recognition of the PFA and it's right to administer the game, develop it and spread it in accordance with FIFA laws," Rajoub added.

On Monday, Israeli soccer officials met UEFA president Michel Platini in Switzerland to enlist support against the Palestinian proposal. Israel play in Europe but the Palestinians are members of the Asian confederation.

- Reuters


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