The Palestinian Authority has buried another attempt to resurrect the peace process, this time rejecting President Shimon Peres’ proposal for a “peace process soccer game.”
The reason – if you are ready for this – might be funny if it were not true: The suggestion was made without consulting them.
President Peres and the Barcelona’s Barca soccer club president Sandro Rosell pitched the idea last week at a joint press conference.
“A soccer club is also a school. It is educational; it teaches our children to play together despite their difference,” declared the President. “Real peace is between people and not just between governments and as our children love Barcelona, so, too, do children in the Palestinian Authority.”
Rosell added, “We would like, with the Palestinian and Israeli leadership, to promote the idea of a football match for peace. We understand that peace will only be possible if we build confidence, respect and understanding between the two peoples.”
“The decision was made without consulting us. They think that it is our obligation to do what the masters of the region demand,” said a straight-faced Jibril Rajoub, director of the Palestinian Authority Football Association.
He made it clear that the idea was great. “This is a good and amazing idea which I love. I really think that sports and soccer can be used to build trust and create peace,” according to Rajoub. The problem apparently is that he did not think of it first.
Furthermore, he said the idea of Israel and PA Arabs playing on the same team against Barcelona is not feasible because “Israel does not even recognize us as a sporting entity.”
For the record, Peres did not demand that the PA side recognize Israel as a “Jewish team.” Rajoub could have seized on that as a precedent for not satisfying Israel’s demand that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Instead, he complained that Israel blocked a FIFA official from arriving in Judea and Samaria and not allowing several PA soccer players to travel from Ramallah to Gaza.
“The “current atmosphere is not appropriate for a match like this,” he concluded in a gross understatement.
As in the diplomatic process, the Palestinian Authority has laid down conditions for the “peace process game.”
The Peres Peace Center still doesn’t give up. Its director Ido Sharir was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying, “The Palestinians have made requests, some more legitimate than others, and we are trying to deal with that. There are a lot of variables that are out of our control and can affect an initiative like this. But we have a good base [for arranging the match].”
The game is supposed to be played in July, although the question remains, “Which July?
Reminder: the “peace process” was supposed to have concluded several years ago.