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Dropped bid to suspend Israel from FIFA slammed

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Dropping a bid to suspend Israel from FIFA was an “outrageous deviation from our values, principles and efforts to expose the Israeli occupation’s crimes and to oust Israel from international organizations,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said Saturday.

The leftist PLO faction laid responsibility for the last-minute withdrawal on Palestinian Authority decision makers, calling upon the Executive Committee of the PLO to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue and “settle account with” those behind the decision.

dropped the bid Friday minutes before it was scheduled to be brought to the table.

The football governing body voted instead on an amendment proposing the formation of a committee to monitor the movement of Palestinian football players, Israeli racism, as well as the status of Israeli league teams based in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank.

The new amendment passed with 90 percent of member nations voting in favor following a whirlwind of ambiguous last minute changes.

PFLP maintained that Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub should be questioned over his position and his exact actions during the FIFA congress meeting.

Such behavior is a “slap to Palestinian sport,” the group said, pointing to the decision as a waste of the blood lost by all those who have sacrificed for Palestinian movement and independence from Israeli occupation. The group also described dropping the bid at the last moment was “an act of betrayal” towards international solidarity and the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which struggled until the last moment to support the bid.

“This behavior poses multiple question marks about the Palestinian efforts to join international organizations,” the PFLP wrote in a statement.

Friday’s almost-bid to suspend Israel was the latest in a string of efforts to use boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to build international pressure on the Israeli government to end the ongoing military occupation.

Protesters supporting Israel’s suspension from FIFA temporarily halted Blatter’s opening address to the congress Friday, waving red cards at FIFA representatives and chanting “Israel out!” before they were escorted out of the hall by security guards.

In light of apparent international support for the original bid, the PFLP urged Palestinian leadership to consult “leading Palestinian organizations” instead of single handedly making major decisions related to the Palestinian national cause.

While the new amendment designates a “multi-lateral monitor group to work directly under the rules of the FIFA Ethics, Legal, and Discrimination committees, and will be composed of International Observers,” it is not yet clear in what capacity the group will act to monitor Israeli violations against Palestinian players.

Re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter appointed former South African cabinet minister and African National Congress (ANC) leader Tokyo Sexwale to head the committee.

Both an anti-apartheid activist and former political prisoner, Sexwale’s nomination to head the monitoring committee was a reminder of the potential role sports played in ending the era of apartheid South Africa.

South Africa was suspended from FIFA from 1976 until 1992 when the apartheid regime fell. Following the amendment win in congress, Rajoub said FIFA must now help tackle the issues facing Palestinian players in the occupied West Bank before waving a red card at delegates to emphasize his point.

“I think it’s time to raise the red card against racism and humiliation in Palestine and everywhere. It is time,” he added. MAAN


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