Dozens of members of the European Parliament have called on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to take measures against soccer clubs based in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and prevent them from taking part in official tournaments.
Sixty-six members of the 751-member parliament, in a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, asked the international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer to adopt the action during the October 13-14 FIFA Council meetings in the Swiss city of Zurich.
“We urge you to act in accordance with FIFA statutes (and) international law... (that) FIFA should rule that settlement clubs either fully relocate within Israel… or are excluded from the Israeli Football Association,” the Friday letter read.
Alyn Smith, a member of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the appeal to FIFA calls on the world soccer's governing body to “respect its own rules,” but not a ban on Israel.
“I am not asking FIFA to suspend Israel. We just want it to apply the rules. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to play football... Allowing Israel to use football as an instrument of territorial expansion in the West Bank politicizes football,” Smith noted.
The five clubs that the members of the European Parliament are referring to hail from the illegal settlements of Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel in the central West Bank, Kiryat Arba, Givat Zeev and Bikat Hayarden.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of their future independent state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The presence and continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, however, have created a major obstacle to the establishment of such a state.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories they are built on were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
Nevertheless, the Israeli regime continues to build more settlements and expand the existing ones.