Israel says it is glad the international soccer federation, FIFA, has managed to avoid what Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely called an “absurd situation” – the expulsion of the Jewish State from the global sports body.
“I welcome the fact that we didn’t arrive at an absurd situation in which a state like Israel would have been suspended from a body whose vocation is, before all, sporting,” Hotovely told international reporters Friday.
Palestinian soccer league head and convicted terrorist Jibril Rajoub submitted a last-minute amendment cancelling the delegation’s proposal to expel Israel from the 209-member federation, just before the vote was set to take place.
On the same day, federation members also voted to re-elect FIFA president Sepp Blatter for a fifth term, despite the arrest of seven top organization officials in Switzerland by U.S. prosecutors.
A total of 14 federation officials and marketing executives were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations of corruption and racketeering.
Amidst the chaos that ensued Wednesday following the arrests, the Palestinian delegation vowed to keep up the pressure to wage sportsfare against Israel at FIFA. An attempt by the Israeli delegation to negotiate a compromise with the Palestinians may or may not have paid off in the end.
“Our international effort has proven itself and led to the failure of the Palestinian Authority attempt to oust us from FIFA,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a statement on Friday following the decision to drop the attempt to expel Israel.
“I thank all those took part in the international effort that led to the failure of this attempt, including the Israeli delegation in Switzerland led by Israel Football Association Chairman Ofer Eini.
“The State of Israel is interested in a peace that will ensure security for its citizens but this will not be achieved through coercion and distorting the truth. The only way to achieve peace is to begin negotiations between the sides.
“This Palestinian provocation joins the unilateral steps that the Palestinians are taking at other international institutions. So long as they take these steps they will only push peace further away instead of bringing it closer.
“At a time when the international community is calling for confidence-building measures, the Palestinians are once again replying with an attempt to carry out unilateral steps that harm the ability to advance a regional settlement.”