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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why Israel doesn't let 'Palestinian' soccer players travel

FIFA - the international soccer federation - is once again pressuring Israel to loosen travel restrictions on 'Palestinian' soccer players.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and delegates at the FIFA Congress called on the Israeli government on Wednesday to fully commit to FIFA's plans to ease restrictions on movement for Palestinian footballers.
"I call on the Israeli government to facilitate this movement and I go so far as to say its co-operation is crucial," Blatter told delegates who roundly applauded him. 
After Blatter spoke, Jibril Rajoub, the president of the Palestine FA said they would not be calling for any sanctions against Israel as he had implied a month ago, but that the suffering of Palestine football had to end.
"I call on those who are causing the suffering to stop and those that are suffering not to lose hope as they are part of the FIFA family," he told delegates from all 209 of FIFA's members including Israel.
After Rajoub's speech, Blatter congratulated the Israeli delegation for not responding negatively to Rajoub's pleas saying: "Israeli football, you are not abandoned and I congratulate today for keeping silent in the spirit of sportsmanship fair play."
Yes, yes, sports uber alles, just like in Munich 42 years ago.

Whatever FIFA's plans are, I would bet that they have zero chance of adoption after this incident.
The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on Wednesday announced that it had provided the IDF’s legal division with evidence to indict a Palestinian soccer player for meetings with a Hamas terrorist in Qatar, which he covered up as part of his team’s soccer tour.
The statement said that Samah Fares Muhamed Marava, 22, and Kalkilya resident, left Israel with his team on their soccer tour on April 15.
The Shin Bet said that while in Qatar, Marava met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, part of Hamas’ military wing, who was previously sentenced to life in prison in Israel, but released and deported as part of the Schalit prisoner exchange.
The statement said that since his release, Sarim has reconnected with Hamas and is involved with its military operations in the field.
During his interrogation, Marava said that before he left for Qatar, Muad Yusef Hasan Sarim, a senior Hamas operative in Kalkilya, approached him about meeting with Talal Sarim during his trip, the Shin Bet said.
During Marava’s meeting with Talal Sarim, said the statement, Marava received money, a cellphone and written messages that Talal Sarim asked him to bring to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya. This was later confirmed by Muad Sarim who was arrested on May 21.
The Shin Bet accused Marava of “cynically exploiting” his status as a soccer player to leave the country and make contacts with foreign Hamas agents and arrested him on April 28, upon his return to Israel.
Great sportsmanship, huh? Don't bet on those travel restrictions being lifted anytime soon.

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