December 30 – The United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements has heaped pressure on FIFA to resolve the issue of Israeli lower-league clubs based in the occupied West Bank, according to Human Rights Watch.
Last week, the UN Security Council demanded an end to Israeli settlements in the first such resolution in decades. Israel labelled the resolution “shameful” but HRW said FIFA will have to react when it holds its first Council meeting of 2017 in early January.
So far, despite efforts to bring about some kind of compromise, mediation efforts by FIFA to resolve the issue of the six Israeli clubs have failed. But Sari Bashi, HRW’s Israel advocacy director, told AFP that the UN stance “makes it much more difficult for FIFA to pretend that allowing Israel to hold games in the settlements is neutral or acceptable.”
More than 400,000 Israelis live inside the West Bank in settlements viewed by the international community as a major obstacle to peace. FIFA had been due to rule on the future of the six clubs in October but was forced to delay its decision until the January 9-10 Council session.
Both the Israeli and Palestinian associations are members of FIFA whose rules prevent matches being played on another country’s territory without permission.
“This resolution makes it harder for FIFA to continue pretending it is avoiding politics by allowing the settlement clubs to continue playing,” added Bashi.
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