PLO bigwig Jibril Rajoub, who used to be famous for breaking opponents’ knees in broad daylight as head of the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Force, on Thursday was evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for urgent medical treatment. And while receiving the best medical care in the Middle East, Rajoub, in his current role as Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, continues to exert heavy political pressure designed to cancel the visit of the Atlético Madrid soccer team in Israel for a friendly match against Beitar Jerusalem. The game is scheduled for May 21.
Rajoub sent a letter to the Spanish team, warning that the game would take place in “occupied Palestine,” and threatening sanctions against Atlético, as well as suing the team in international courts should it decide to participate in the game in Israel.
For the record, Teddy Stadium, where the friendly match is going to take place, is located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha, which has been part of the state of Israel since 1948.
According to BBC, in August 2018 Rajoub was fined $20,333 and banned from FIFA matches for a year for inciting hatred and violence against the Argentine national team that was scheduled to play a friendly match against Israel’s national team, ahead of the World Cup. Incidentally, Argentina opted to bow to Rajoub’s threats and—some say as a result—tied Iceland 1-1, lost 0-3 to Croatia, barely beat Nigeria 2-1 to make it to the next phase, and lost to France 3-4 in the quarter finals.
Should have gone to Jerusalem.
Idan Ofer, an Israeli co-owner of Atlético Madrid, said in a statement that “Atlético will play in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” adding, “Sports is supposed to be a bridge between people and nations, not divide them.”
In 2012, Rajoub, who also serves as head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, said Israel’s request for a minute of silence to remember the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics by Black September terrorists was “racist.”
Rajoub also famously told Hezbollah-affiliated television network Al Mayadeen in 2013 that “until now we have not had nuclear weapons, but in the name of Allah, if we had nuclear weapons, we’d be using them.”
Let’s hope Ichilov is using the weekend substitute staff to care for the illustrious leader, this being Independence Day.