Johannesburg – South African former minister Tokyo Sexwale said on Friday morning 8 May that he was back in Joburg “maybe just to change my clothes” after a high-level trip to Palestine. Invited by the Palestine Football Federation, Sexwale spent two days on a fact-finding mission on behalf of his organisation, Global Watch. Global Watch is a brainchild of Sexwale and is supported by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, South Africa’s ANC party as well as several other organizations and groups. He is now hoping this anti-racism in sports body, through his intervention this week, can help avert a call for Israel’s expulsion from football controlling body Fifa at its congress in Zurich later this month.
Sexwale said he had been in contact with the Israeli government and was now on standby to participate in meetings to try to find a resolution before sanctions might be applied.
“What we saw in Palestine in relation to what is happening in Israel is shocking. And remember, I speak as a victim of the anti-apartheid struggle. So if I say it is shocking, it is shocking. Palestine is a swollen cheek with tears, but so is Israel. They are two cheeks on the same face, and a resolution to the problem has to be found beyond sport,” he said.
“The society is abnormal there, so from our own archives no normal sports in an abnormal society, and for Palestine, their sporting equipment, their sporting people, their sporting officials can’t move around freely. It’s not normal.”
In his discussions with the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, Sexwale said he had found there was no appetite for the expulsion of Israel from Fifa, but that “it’s not like playing dice, we have to help (Israel) to get out of the difficult position in which they have put themselves. That’s why I went to facilitate”. The full report is given in:
Before leaving for Palestine Sexwale said: “The objectives of the visit is a listening visit and also a fact finding mission to understand the problems that are prevailing around sporting issues in particular in reference to Palestinians and Israel and where we can paly a role as Global Watch… it’s unacceptable that a situation prevails within Palestine and between Israel of hostility that also finds itself on the sporting field. Part of our mission, we will be working with Mr Blatter… and members of FIFA.” He went on further to explain that: “[I will] have initial discussions with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Football Association to understand what their objectives are, what their feelings are… it’s a fact finding and also a listening exercise”.
Sexwale was invited to Palestine by Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub. Rajoub is due to seek Israel’s expulsion from FIFA later this month. Last year in 2014 Rajoub agreed to drop a FIFA resolution urging delegates to take up sanctions against Israel at FIFA’s Congress in Sao Paulo but Rajoub has now indicated that he would press ahead with the same proposal in Zurich on 29 May 2015. Rajoub said he “would not make concessions” because nothing has improved in the way Israel is “persecuting Palestine footballers, athletes and the movement of sporting equipment…enough is enough…Israel is still behaving like the neighbourhood bully, or worse.” Palestine has already tabled its motion and it is on the Congress agenda.
The Palestinian Embassy in Pretoria confirmed that Sexwale is on a 2-day fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Abdel Hafiz Nofal, the Palestinian ambassador to South Africa welcomed Sexwale’s visit to Palestine saying: “To have someone of the stature of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale in Palestine is a privilege, it’s an extension of our historic relationship between Palestine and South Africa. Our officials in Ramallah will brief Sexwale on the current state of Palestinian sport and sporting bodies. Sexwale is also expected to have discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and President of the Palestine Football Association Jibril Rajoub.” Nofal further indicated that Sexwale will visit the gravesite of former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader, Yasser Arafat. Kwara Kekana of the Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa also welcomed Sexwale’s visit saying: “We trust that our counterparts in Palestine will brief Comrade Tokyo on the various BDS sporting campaigns including the campaign led by PA Minister and President of the Palestine Football Association Jibril Rajoub to have Israel expelled from FIFA later this month.”
Tokyo Sexwale was received earlier today in Jordan by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub, before travelling to Ramallah in Palestine via the King Hussain bridge, avoiding entry via Israel’s Tel Aviv airport.
Full pre-visit article is at: