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FIFA Rewards Illegal Jewish Settlements

Daoud Kuttab photo
Daoud KuttabAmman, Jordan
FIFA Rewards Illegal Jewish Settlements
A decision by the sports giant FIFA to accept the status quo of illegal Jewish settlement clubs playing in the Israeli league against FIFA bylaws gives legitimacy to international law violations

The decision by the FIFA council to keep the status quo as is regarding six Jewish settlements football clubs is a worrisome development that might be reflecting some kind of new world order.

The idea that the sports giant allows Israeli teams to play in a FIFA-registered league despite the fact that the league’s own by-laws refuse that reflects the absurdity that is part of this new world order.

At first, the monitoring committee set up by FIFA to look into this issue in return for Palestine withdrawing its request to suspend Israel’s membership argued about the land issue.

Its members wrote to and received the clear answer from the UN secretary general, in October 2016, that the West Bank is an occupied area and that Jewish settlements are illegal there.

Two months later, the UN Security Council voted on and approved, with a 14-0 vote (and Obama’s administration’s abstention) that settlements in areas occupied in 1967 are illegal.

FIFA had a problem because in 2014 it forced the Crimean teams not to be part of the Russian league. Therefore, a delay tactic was applied and every FIFA session witnessed pressure and finally delay, until the Palestinians, in May 2017, in Manama, Bahrain, made a request, within the proper time, for a decision.

Again FIFA delayed, breaking its own protocol, and shut down the discussion, leading Palestinians to complain to the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS) to intervene.

This lawsuit forced Tokyo Sexwale to present his report not in the name of his entire committee, but simply as the chairman’s report in which Sexwale admitted the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, but then provided three options: status quo, warning the Israeli league or convincing Israelis and Palestinians to find a solution.

In a convoluted way, Israelis argued that since the clubs from the six settlements are based in Area C, which Israel has full security and administrative control over, that means somehow that the clubs in those areas are de facto part of Israel.

The fact that FIFA would buy this totally senseless rubbish is worrisome.

The FIFA council meeting in Kolkata decided to accept option 1 and to argue that the Palestine-Israel conflict is bigger than one that an NGO (like FIFA) can resolve and therefore until the Oslo accords are changed, FIFA will respect the status quo and allow Israeli teams to continue violating international law.

What FIFA did, therefore, is simply to legitimise Israel’s illegal actions.

By allowing Israeli settlers to continue playing, FIFA did something that Israel has yet to do. It de facto annexed settlements built illegally on the occupied territories to Israel.

It is unlikely that the FIFA Council decision will hold up in the CAS court.

But what it reflects is the unbridled powers of Israel and its supporters in turning black into white and getting away with the claim that the sun rises from the west.

It is also unlikely that the FIFA general assembly will allow the organisation to clearly violate its own by-laws.

And this time, there should be no compromise to allow Israel to get away without being censured by the FIFA member organisations

While international law is supposed to override the power of force and might, the current world order seems to give a pass to Israel for flagrantly violating international norms and forcing major international organisations like FIFA to go along with its decisions, even if they violate the organisation’s own laws.

Right is might and when might become right we are all in trouble.

The FIFA example is the latest in which powerful countries and their supporters are turning justice upside down, allowing for facts on the ground to determine what is right or wrong.

##FIFA, ##Palestine, ##Israel, ##Sports, ##UN, ##Settlements