To the President
On June 5, the UEFA Under 21 Championship is due to kick off in Israel. On 5 June, 1967, Israel, in a preemptive war, attacked and occupied the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai.
On June 5, a day of conquest for Israel and of suffering and denied rights for Palestinians, Uefa plans to reward Israel for its contribution to sport. For 46 years, the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza have been living under military occupation. No generation born after that date has ever lived in freedom. Every day they suffer under the violence of military occupation. Every day land cultivated with difficulty is stolen to be transformed into settlements. Houses demolished to prevent the growth of the Palestinian population, construction of colonial annexation wall, apartheid roads that only settlers, Israeli citizens and East Jerusalem ID cardholders can use, thousands of political prisoners, including children, torture.
In the hills south of Hebron just as in the Jordan Valley, land belonging to the Palestinian state, the Israeli army forcibly evacuates shepherds and farmers for military exercises, which in reality pave the way for new settlements.
But you Mr. Platini, are aware of the situation. You know about the rampant discrimination Israelis practice toward Palestinian sports: football players arrested and held in administrative detention, permits denied to Palestinians players even for “dialogue” games with Israelis, stadiums destroyed in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, checkpoints, the Wall. I could go on, but allow let me get to the point.
Israel must learn to respect the rights of others, in this case of a population that, in addition to suffering the occupation of 67, also experienced the exodus, the Nakba of 1948, and the cancellation of hundreds of Palestinian villages by Israel in order to erase all traces and cancel their memory. Some of these villages are adjacent to the stadiums where the UEFA finals will be played.
For these reasons I call upon you to move the Uefa Under 21 Championship from Israel. It’s not too late. Sports, too, must hold violations of human rights and international law to account, and Israel continues to violate not only all UN resolutions but also every code of ethics and morality.
Listen to us, dear Mr. Platini. Listen to your heart and your conscience. Listen to those courageous Israeli citizens who have joined the call launched by 42 Palestinian sports organizations:
Do not hold the UEFA Under 21 Championship in Israel.
I look forward to your response, and if, in the end, you do hold the UEFA finals in Israel, do not remain silent. Speak out with clarity on June 5, the anniversary of the Israeli military occupation, reminding all that the Palestinian people have every right to live in freedom.
Former Vice President of the European Parliament
Source: BDS Italia