Photo Credit: Efrat Sa'ar / Flash 90
Former President Shimon Peres puts out his hand during the opening of Peres Center for Peace that hosted the "Twinned Peace Soccer Schools" program attended by Israeli and Palestinian Authority children. (Sept. 2014)

The friendly soccer game between Israeli and Palestinian Authority youth and organized last week by the Peres Center for Peace was “a normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy [and] a crime against humanity,” said Jibril Rajoub,, a senior Fatah official and head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association.

Rajoub, besides being secretary of the central committee of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’ party, he also is chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association.

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Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) translated and published Rajoub’s remarks that he posted on his Facebook page this week.

“The Palestinian sports leadership and community – the Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association – have opposed such activities,” he wrote. ”Normalization in sports with the Zionist occupation is a crime,” and he demanded that “all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities, especially because their recurrence would arouse disgust and aversion towards all members of the [Palestinian] sports community.”

Rajoub’s comments were published today (Monday) by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and were opposite in tone from an AFP report that was published by the Palestinian Authority daily and which reported, “After a summer of brutal war, destruction and fatalities, Palestinian and Israeli children met on Monday [last week] to participate in football matches a few kilometers from the devastated Gaza Strip….

“The Israeli children came from communities located near the besieged Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian children came from Yatta,” which for some reason AFP reported in Gaza but actually is immediately south of Hebron.

“Many of the children had already played in previous tournaments organized by the Peres Center for Peace, which is run by former Israeli President Shimon Peres,” the article stated. It added, “Qusai, 11, said, ‘I love it when we play together like this. I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death.’”

PMW also translated and published a comment in another PA news agency by Palestinian Olympic Committee member Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh, who denounced the soccer game as “a crime and an unpatriotic and immoral act” and demanded that Rajoub “immediately interrogate the organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs and in violation of the decisions made by the Palestinian sports community’s leadership.”

Even more revealing of the two-faced character of Abbas’ party is that the leadership of the “peace partner’s” Fatah movement branch in Yatta held “an urgent meeting to discuss the ramifications of the normalization matches” and “strongly condemned” the event, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

Fatah branch secretary Dr. Kamal Makhamreh said that the participation in the match “was an individual act, conceived by sick souls that agreed to be humiliated for a handful of money,” and he “urged the residents to supervise their children and distance them from these kinds of activities, which damage our cause.”

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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