FIFA has decided to reject a request from the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to sanction Israel due to athletic activities that take place in the West Bank. From The Jerusalem Post:

“The FIFA Council takes note of the documents adopted by international governmental bodies concerning the relationship between Israel and Palestine – such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which comprises recommendations without sanctions – but has decided that it should not take any position on their contents,” the statement read. “The FIFA Council acknowledges that the current situation is, for reasons that have nothing to do with football, characterized by an exceptional complexity and sensitivity and by certain de facto circumstances that can neither be ignored nor changed unilaterally by non-governmental organizations such as FIFA.”

Passed in 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 compelled Israel, “the occupying power,” to abide by the Geneva convention, refrain from altering the demographic composition of territories acquired since 1967 and freeze all settlement activity, among other practices. It also called on the Palestinian Authority to confront and dismantle terror and confiscate illegal weapons. The resolution condemned all acts of violence against civilians as well as provocation and incitement.

The FIFA statement went on to say that it is important to remain neutral on political matters, and that the governing council felt that any interference in the issue of the West Bank “might aggravate the situation of football not only in the territories in question, but also in the greater region affected – which would not be in the best interests of the game.”

Not leaving any room for debate, the statement closed with “The matter is declared closed and will not be the subject of any further discussion until the legal and/or de facto framework has changed.”

Miriam discussed this issue in two posts in May. She wrote that the PFA started this campaign two years ago along with other anti-Israel groups to kick out Israel due to “its inclusion of six football teams that play in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank, what the PFA and its supporters call ‘stolen land.'”

These six soccer clubs were in the dispute as Miriam noted:

The six teams in question play their home games in stadiums located in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit and the Jordan Valley. According to the watchdog group NGO Monitor, only one stadium is built on land privately owned by a Palestinian family. Even there, the land claim is contested.

The PFA insisted that these clubs play on “sovereign Palestinian territory.” Israel countered that this land “is disputed territory and that it’s beyond FIFA’s purview to determine Israel’s borders.”

The loudest voice to sanction Israel belonged to PFA president Jibril Rajoub. He’s a former security guard and spent 15 years in an Israeli prison after he threw “a grenade at Israeli soldiers.” He also does not want to coexist with Israel.

As Miriam stated, the PFA has 170 clubs and sport associations:

So Israel obviously isn’t stopping Palestinians from engaging in sports activities, and it’s not clear why anyone should believe that a mere 6 Israeli ‘settlement clubs’ (all of which are amateur adult and youth teams that play in low-level leagues) pose any hindrance to Palestinian soccer.

Bottom line: The PFA and its supporters insist that all they want is to see “football played on their land”. But Israel’s handful of teams and stadiums in the West Bank aren’t preventing this. Israeli soccer has been turned into a target in order to (a) further isolate and demonize Israel and its people; and (b) shame FIFA for crossing a ‘BDS picket line’ by encouraging Israeli-Palestinian sports as a route to peace and reconciliation, thus insufficiently emphasizing the ‘injustice of the occupation’. Basically, the call for FIFA to suspend Israel’s membership at next week’s meetings in Bahrain is merely the latest salvo in the BDS anti-normalization campaign against Israel.