Israeli FA vows to repel Palestinian call for suspension

The Palestine FA said earlier this week it would request Israel's suspension at next month's FIFA Congress

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The Israeli Football Association is confident that FIFA will not follow through on the Palestine FA's request for a suspension to be imposed on the Jewish state.

The Palestine FA said earlier this week it would request the suspension at next month's FIFA Congress because it believes Israel is hampering its soccer activities.

The Israeli FA said in a statement that new chairman, Ofer Eini, was “acting at all possible levels to ensure the standing of Israeli soccer is not harmed”.

“The Israeli FA believes that FIFA and Sepp Blatter at its helm, and the heads of the various federations and associations will not permit a move which seeks to mix sport and politics in a manner that is completely opposed to the principles of the organisation and the aims of the game,” the Israeli FA said.

Despite efforts by Blatter to ease tensions, the Palestinians remain frustrated at restrictions they say Israel imposes on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian FA also cited curbs Israel places on the import into Palestinian territories of sports equipment and on visits by foreign teams and individuals.

Blatter set up in 2013 a task force which included himself, the Israeli and Palestinian soccer chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian soccer confederations to examine the Palestinian complaints and to try to resolve them.

But Palestine FA president Jibril Rajoub said he has lost patience, and he has called on FIFA to show Israel “the red card”.

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 two territories, which requires passage via Israel.

Last week, 41 runners from Gaza were allowed to participate in a marathon in the West Bank, something that has been denied all Gaza runners in the past two years.

Thirteen others were barred from travelling, as was the Palestinian beach soccer team, according to Gisha, an Israeli non-governmental group that monitors freedom of movement for Palestinians.

In December, Rajoub called on FIFA to sanction Israel after Israeli troops entered the offices of the Palestine Football Association.

An army spokesman said soldiers were seeking a wanted individual and were not targeting the premises because of its links to soccer.

The Palestinian draft resolution calls for Israel's suspension because its actions “inhibit our ability to develop the game”.