Israeli soccer chief Ofer Eini is furious after the chairman of a FIFA committee threatened to suspend Israel from all national football competitions if it continues to allow teams from the West Bank to play in the national league. The Palestinians argue that the presence of six Israeli football clubs playing in West Bank settlements is in breach of FIFA statutes. A special committee headed by South African official Tokyo Sexwale met Eini and Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub at FIFA headquarters. Eini reportedly became very angry when Sexwale suggested that Israel would be suspended from all international competitions unless they disbarred the West Bank clubs. In their submission to FIFA, the Palestinians had not mentioned suspension. After a stand-off  reportedly lasting several hours, Sexwale appeared to back down slightly, offering to delay any final
decision until the FIFA congress in May and opening the door to continuing negotiations. At the end of the meeting Sexwale presented a “draft final report containing specific recommendations,” FIFA said, adding that the parties will “come back” to him before he submits his final report to the FIFA congress in Bahrain. Sexwale reportedly presented three possible options. First, to retain the status quo “with the legal risks arising therefrom”; second, to allow the Israeli federation six months “to rectify the situation of the six clubs in question,” or to request new negotiations between the two sides. Rajoub insisted the ball is now in Israel’s court and praised Sexwale for threatening to suspend Israel. “I don’t think that there will be any kind of agreement
(in Bahrain),” he told reporters. “The question (is) whether the Israelis are going to abide and respect (international law and FIFA’s statutes) or they want to continue bullying like the bully of the neighbourhood – it is up to them. The ball is in their court.” David Alhaini, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, home to one of the six teams, responded to the FIFA ultimatum. “The Jordan Valley is an inseparable part of Israel,” he said. “The attempt by Palestinians to drive a wedge between parts of the state of Israel and to try to lead boycotts of Israeli football is unfounded and unjust. We remain strong and determined that our sports and national path is just and we are confident that we will also win this battle successfully.”