Palestinian Authority (PA) official Jibril Rajoud, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestine Olympic Committee, said in a speech delivered before the visiting Saudi Arabian national soccer team in October that he puts little stock in normalization with Israel, and sees the prospect of peace as slim.
In his address, Rajoub thanked fellow top Palestinian officials for joining him “in order to say to this fascist and Nazi occupation that Jerusalem is ours, and that Jerusalem will only be Islamic-Christian.”
Rajoub, who is also head of the Central Committee of the PA’s ruling Fatah faction, went on to explain why normalization between Israel and any Arabs is a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.
“I say to the Palestinian leadership – we in the Council of Arab Ministers for Youth and Sports have defined what normalization with the occupation is: A. No Arab will participate in any sports activity in Israel; B. We reject that any Arab or Islamic state host any championship with the participation of Israelis; C. Any athlete who advances a stage and an Israeli is competing against him will not meet him.”
Rajoub, who was punished last year by FIFA for criticizing football star Lionel Messi over a visit to Israel, makes abundantly clear the ongoing position of the Arab world, which can be seen regularly at regional sporting events.
Toward the end of last month, a Jordanian kickboxer refused to compete against an Israeli at a tournament in Turkey, and over the summer, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was forced to flee his homeland and seek asylum in Europe after the Iranian regime forced him to intentionally lose a semifinal match to ensure he didn’t end up having to face an Israeli in the next round.
What is more frustrating for Israelis is that the Palestinian government that Rajoub represents is supposed to be a viable peace partner for Israel. But it’s true nature is clear. They are willing even to forfeit major athletic achievements for the sake of boycotting the Jewish state. Hatred of Israel comes before all else.