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Petition seeks to ban Israeli national team

July 2, 2012

Friday, August 10. 2007

A petition calling on world football organisations to ban the national Israeli football team from all international fixtures has been launched by a Palestinian campaign group.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has urged the Football Association (FA), the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) to ban Israel until it “complies with International Law and relevant United Nations resolutions to end Israeli occupation” of Palestine.

The petition ‘Kick Israeli Apartheid Out of Football – Fair Play for the Palestinians’ claims that for 60–years Israel has been “destroying Palestinian lives, livelihoods and homes daily” whilst “refusing to stop the building of illegal settlements and the apartheid wall on stolen land”.

It states: “We believe that, like the sporting boycott against Apartheid South Africa, only international pressure can make Israel end its violations of international Law and human rights towards the Palestinian people to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Middle-East.”

It further added: “Palestinians love football but both amateur and professional players and the Palestinian Football Association are unable to function fully because of the occupation. Children have been killed and injured by the Israeli army while playing football. International and national football organizations must take action to support the Palestinians right and ability to participate at every level of the game.”

London’s football club Arsenal came under heavy criticism in March last year after it controversially signed a sponsorship deal worth £350,000 promoting Israel as a tourist destination.

Palestinian support groups and various Muslim organisations led a campaign urging Arsenal to cancel the deal claiming Israel was a “racist apartheid state built upon the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arab population from Palestine”.

During the campaign the Islamic Human Rights Commission warned that the deal would put Arsenal’s reputation into serious question and “went against the very principles of ‘Kicking Racism out of Football’”.

The PSC also sent Arsenal an open letter urging it to visit the Occupied Territories and experience the “injustice” faced by the Palestinians.

It read: “Our experience is that those who visit the Occupied Territories always return with a sense of the real injustice that is being perpetrated there.”

It cited a number of alleged incidents committed by Israel against some members of the Palestinian national football team.

PSC accused Israel of refusing five members of the squad: Jamal El Holi, Ayman El Kurdi, Ashraf Salama, Ibrahim Suwairki and Wael Rusrus, from travelling to take part in the crucial 2004 World Cup qualifying match against Uzbekistan.

It further said that after the World Cup qualifier Palestinian striker Ziad Al Kourd returned home to the Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah only to find his home completely demolished.

PSC said that Israel had apparently claimed its army was “clearing an area of land while searching for arms-smuggling tunnels” because it deemed Al Kourd a “security threat”.

Another petition “Palestinian National Football Team Sabotaged” set up on http://www.petitiononline.com has attracted over 10,500 signatures urging the FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, to suspend Israel’s FIFA membership until it “stops interfering in and obstructing Palestinian national representation in football and other international arenas”.

It has accused Israel of bombing the Palestinian Football Stadium in Gaza on March 30 last year leaving a massive crater in its centre.

It said that Israel had “set out to prevent the Palestinian football team from representing the Palestinian people on an international level during the World Cup qualifiers.”

It further said that the Palestinian team has been forced to play all its “home” games in a foreign country – Egypt – away from the support and encouragement of their fans.

Meanwhile, PSC hopes to bring its petition ‘Kick Israeli Apartheid Out of Football’ to the attention of the FA, UEFA and FIFA ahead of the England-Israel Euro qualifier on September 8 next month.

Currently the petition (www.palestinecampaign.org) has attracted just under 1,200 signatures.

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