European Jews for a Just Peace, EJJP, is a federation of 18 Jewish groups from ten European countries. Its letter is given below
11 August 2016
Gianni Infantino, President
Tokyo Sexwale, Chairman, Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine
Dear Mr. Infantino and Mr. Sexwale,
We are writing to you about the long-standing issue of the Israeli football teams based in illegal Israeli settlements. It is well established that Israel’s control of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is indeed an “occupation”, and therefore all its settlements are illegal in international law. That is confirmed by the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and the governments of all countries except that of Israel. Even the Israeli High Court has ruled that the West Bank and Gaza are under “belligerent occupation”.
For years, Israeli governments have been trying to create precedents in order to legitimise their policy, thereby trying to gradually manipulate the international community into transforming the illegal into the legal and permanent. Membership of the settlement football teams in the Israeli Football Association (IFA) is one such tactic. If the settlement teams remain in the IFA, and the IFA is allowed to remain in FIFA, then Israel will claim that as a precedent for recognising that settlements are legal and a part of Israel’s sovereign territory.
FIFA should not unwittingly lend itself to this tactic. Therefore, it should insist that the IFA either remove the settlement football teams from its membership, or have its own membership of FIFA suspended.
Failure to do so would contravene FIFA’s statutes in two respects. Firstly, the statutes prohibit one national football association from operating clubs in the territory of another association without the latter’s consent. The Palestinian Football Association has emphatically not consented. Secondly, the new Article 3 states “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.” The occupation, the illegal settlements and the repressive measures Israel takes in order to maintain them, all contravene the Palestinians’ right to self determination. By allowing the present status of the settlement teams to continue, FIFA would be aiding the continuing denial of Palestinian rights.
There is ample precedent in FIFA to take action. It has excluded football clubs in the Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, and other non-recognised territories from FIFA national football associations and from FIFA itself. The original precedent, of course, was the exclusion of apartheid South Africa. None of that was allowing politics to interfere in football, but rather maintaining the integrity of FIFA and of football itself.
Finally, excluding the settlement clubs would follow the European Union’s rationale of insisting on differentiating between Israel within its recognised borders, and the occupied territories and the settlements.