Soccer

Palestinian Football drops motion to have Israel suspended from FIFA

The Israel football team will avoid suspension by FIFA for now, as the Palestinian Football Association has cancelled it's motion for penalization. The vote for Israel's punishment was going to take place on Friday in Zurich at FIFA's scandal-ridden conference.

The Palestinian Football Association has withdrawn motion to have Israel suspended by FIFA

Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Soccer body, has decided to drop the motion to have Israel suspended by FIFA. (Getty Images )

The Palestinian and Israeli soccer federations took an uneasy path to reaching an accord at the FIFA Congress on Friday.

The Palestinians withdrew its plans for vote on suspending Israeli from world soccer after weeks of talks involving FIFA and political leaders.

"I am here to play football rather than play politics," Palestinian soccer leader Jibril Rajoub said from the stage. "I don't want to score goals, I want to end suffering."

Rajoub eventually accepted his Israeli counterpart Ofer Eini's offer of a public handshake in the hall after an awkward stand-off lasting several minutes.

"Football is a uniting element, not a dividing element," Eini said earlier through a translator.

The handshake followed FIFA President Sepp Blatter steering away Rajoub's request for a separate vote registering protests against Israeli soccer.

The Palestinians have argued that Israel restricts movement of its players in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel's soccer officials have cited security concerns at a government level which are out of their control.

The threat of a suspension vote had kept Blatter busy in diplomacy for several weeks before a presidential election meeting, where he hoped to present FIFA as a united football family.

Still, Rajoub held firm and forced a debate less than an hour before the election began.

Rajoub said he withdrew the vote — which was unlikely to succeed — after heeding FIFA vice-presidents who urged unity over discord.

He then used his FIFA platform to call for free movement of Palestinian players, and urged Israel to expel five clubs who play on disputed territory from the national league.

"It's not an emotional issue for me, it's a life or death issue," Rajoub said from his seat in the hall as Eini stood on stage.

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