Israel Defends Travel Restrictions On Palestinian Football Players
Israel Sports Minister Limor Livnat "has written to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to defend her country's travel restrictions on some Palestinian players on security grounds," according to the AP. The Palestine FA has urged the FIFA Congress "to suspend Israel from FIFA unless it lifts restrictions on Palestinian players." Blatter "tried to mediate the grievances during a trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank in late May." Livnat wrote to Blatter to say that Israel would allow Palestinian athletes to "exit and enter for the purpose of sports, excluding occasions in which there are attempts to make use of sports in order to injure or threaten the security of our citizens." The minister said that Israel "detained a Palestinian national team player, Sameh Maraabeh, in late April on suspicion he met with a 'military activist' of the Islamic militant group Hamas" (AP, 6/11). The JERUSALEM POST reported Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on Wednesday announced that "it had provided the IDF legal division with evidence to indict a Palestinian soccer player for alleged meetings with a Hamas terrorist in Qatar." The Shin Bet said that while in Qatar, Samah Fares Muhamed Marava "met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, part of Hamas' military wing." Marava "received money, a cellphone and written messages which Talal Sarim asked him to bring to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya" (JERUSALEM POST, 6/11).