BNC Statement

Appeal to Union of European Football Associations regarding Israel's bid to host UEFA 2020 tournament games

Dear Michel Platini and UEFA executive committee members,

We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, call upon UEFA to exclude the bid of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) for Jerusalem to host UEFA 2020 tournament games from the selection process.

Dear Michel Platini and UEFA executive committee members,

We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, call upon UEFA to exclude the bid of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) for Jerusalem to host UEFA 2020 tournament games from the selection process. We make this appeal given Israel’s recent war crimes against the people of Gaza and the on-going occupation and persistent human rights violations against Palestinians, including in the field of sports.

Israel has once again carried out an abhorrent massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. At least 2,168 Palestinians have been killed, including 519 children, and more than 8,000 people have been left wounded. At least 380,000 people have been displaced as Israel has deliberately targeted people's homes and infrastructure. Palestinian and international organisations have accused Israel of committing war crimes. In the words of the top UN official for Palestinian refugees Pierre Krähenbühl: "Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced."

In addition, Israel deliberately undermines the development of Palestinian sports. It has annexed occupied East Jerusalem, established Jewish settlements and the Wall and carried out a policy of forced transfer against Palestinians. The UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice have called on the international community to not provide any form of recognition or assistance to these serious Israeli violations of international law.[1]

By awarding the IFA the privilege of hosting UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem, UEFA would be sending a morally troubling message of approval -- or even a reward for – Israel’s grave violations of human rights in Gaza, East Jerusalem and elsewhere at a time when Israel is facing increasing condemnation for adopting a policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

According to media reports, the IFA has submitted its bid for Jerusalem to be allowed to host group stage games during the men’s UEFA European Football Championship in 2020.

The bid by the IFA comes at a time when numerous experts, including the UN experts on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have concluded that Israel, with its practices of annexation and population transfer in occupied East Jerusalem and elsewhere, is responsible for apartheid, colonialism and ethnic cleansing.[2] According to the 1985 International Convention Against Apartheid in Sports, “sports contact with any country practicing apartheid in sports condones and strengthens apartheid.”[3]

Israel's latest massacre and war crimes against the people of Gaza

On July 7 2014, Israel launched the latest in a long series of massacres against the Palestinian population of the besieged Gaza Strip. More than 2,168 Palestinians have been killed, including 519 children, and more than 8,000 people have been left wounded. At least 380,000 people have been displaced as Israel has deliberately targeted civilian homes and infrastructure.

More than 20 Palestinian athletes have been killed, including legendary former footballer and broadcaster Ahed Zaqout. 32 sports facilities and around 500 athletes’ houses were damaged. Four Palestinian children from a single family were deliberately killed while playing football on the beach.

The Israeli siege of Gaza is one of the most brutal manifestations of the Israeli occupation. The latest attack is part of an ongoing policy of collective punishment and killing practised by Israel against the people of Gaza, a violation of international law that Israel appears determined to continue.

On 23 July 2014, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ordered the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law relating to Israel's attack on Gaza. UN officials and Palestinian and international organisations are expected to present evidence of grave Israeli violations of international law amounting to war crimes.

Systematic Israeli attacks on Palestinian sports, an act of apartheid

The infamous Israeli permit system, which has deprived so many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip of their freedom of movement, is reminiscent of the “pass laws” of apartheid South Africa. Permits have been denied to Palestinian footballers for travel to international tournaments, or even participation in local training sessions, simply because they are Palestinian. Israel denies movement permits and attacks Palestinian athletes and sport facilities in order to prevent the development of independent Palestinian sports and as a means of collective punishment.

During Israel’s 2008-09 military attack on the occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip, the Rafah National Stadium was targeted and destroyed and three Palestinian footballers were killed. In Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the situation of Palestinian sports is extremely grim. There are no football facilities and it is almost impossible for Palestinians to play football, because of the severe Israeli restrictions on Palestinian space and development.

Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem

Since the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, all Israeli authorities have worked to transform the Jerusalem under their control into a Jewish-Israeli city. Accordingly, Israeli policies have been guided by the official doctrine of “demographic balance”, which specifies that Palestinians must not exceed a quota of 30% of the combined population of West and East Jerusalem.[4]

In a series of actions that amount to war crimes under international law, Israel has transferred approximately 200,000 of its own citizens into occupied East Jerusalem and forcibly displaced Palestinians within and from the city, in order to create space for the illegal settlements. Israel has ethnically cleansed Palestinians using a variety of measures, including expulsions and forced evictions, combined with expropriation of Palestinian homes and land, demolitions of Palestinian homes and cultural heritage and revocation of the Jerusalem residency permits of Palestinians.

A report published by senior EU officials in Jerusalem in 2012 observed that “restrictive measures... in relation to the ID and residency status of Palestinians from East Jerusalem” are “linked to Israel’s demographic policy” and the “stated aim in official planning documents” is to maintain a specific ethnic ratio."[5]

Palestinians are today facing a crisis in Jerusalem. Most of the Palestinian population under Israel’s occupation, more than 4 million people, are denied free access to the city by an Israeli system of permits, military checkpoints and the Wall.

According to data provided by independent and official Israeli, Palestinian and UN sources and compiled by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem,[6] Israel has confiscated at least one third of the Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem, and 87% of the entire city area is allocated or reserved for Jewish-Israeli development. Only 13% of Israeli building permits issued between 2005 and 2009 were for Palestinians. Israel demolished 370 Palestinian structures, mainly homes, built without permits, and forcibly displaced 909 Palestinians in the period 2009-2013 alone, while approximately 93,000 Palestinians are at risk of being displaced by having their homes demolished.

Since 1967, one quarter of all Palestinians living in East Jerusalem today have been forcibly displaced at least once, mainly due to lack of housing and Israeli residency restrictions. No information is available about the total number of Palestinians permanently transferred from occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli revocation of Jerusalem residency permits alone has resulted in the permanent deportation of at least 14,300 Palestinians, mainly since 1996 (11,131 revocations).[7]

Our call to UEFA

In 2010, UEFA president Michel Platini stated, “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour".[8]

When Israel was selected as host of the Under 21 tournament in 2013, more than 50 top-flight professional footballers denounced the efforts of Israeli officials to paint Israel as a liberal European-type democracy. In a public letter protesting against UEFA’s decision, they called the Israeli-hosted tournament "a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values".[9]

Following the deliberate shootings of Jawhar Nasser Jawhar (19) and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya (17), while they played football earlier this year, and in response to the continued Israeli movement restrictions and other harassment, the Palestinian Football Association called for Israel to be expelled from FIFA, reflecting sweeping sentiment among Palestinians everywhere.[10]

In light of the above, we, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, call on UEFA not to reward Israel for colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and not to turn a blind eye to the IFA’s systematic failure to speak out against Israel's deliberate targeting of Palestinian football and sports in general.

We urge UEFA in the strongest possible terms not to consider the provocative bid by the IFA to host 2020 games in Jerusalem. We also urge the UEFA Executive to inform the IFA that its UEFA membership will be suspended if Israel does not comply with international law and end its deliberate targeting of Palestinian sport.

We shall be urging all fans and players of the beautiful game to support us and engage UEFA on this important matter.

From Occupied Palestine,

The Civic National Commission on Jerusalem, including:

Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Council of National Forces in Palestine
Jerusalem Clubs League
Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian Theatres League
Coalition for Jerusalem
Arab Studies Society/Faisal al Husseini Foundation
Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)

Palestinian Talent Football Academy
Burj Alluqluq Social Center
Abna’a Al-Quds Club
Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
Arab Thought Form
Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
Palestinian Students' Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

And the following Palestinian sports clubs:

Youth Herak Movement, Gaza
Al-Istiklala Sports Club, Gaza
Jamai Rafah Sports Club, Gaza
Qatanna Sports Club
Issawiya Sports Club
Burj Al-Laqlaq Community Center
Old City Youth Association
Za’ayem Youth Sports Club
Youth Development Department YDD - Arab Studies Society
We Are All Palestine Youth Foundation
Qalandia Youth Center
Al-Quds Club
Jerusalem Club
De La Salle Club
Ahli Club – Jerusalem
Biddu Club
Terra Santa Custodia Center
Arab Sports Center
Beit Hanina Jerusalem Club
Al-Thori Youth Club
Abnaa’ Al-Quds Sports Club
The Youth Social Center – Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Arab Jahalin Club
Sur Baher Sport Club
Al-Ram Youth Club
Beit Safafa Arab Club
Prisoners’ Club in Jerusalem
Shumu’Al-Quds Association
Al-Jadeera Development Association
Young Men’s Muslim Association – Hizma / YMMA
Zahrat Almadaen Association
Center’s Union of the Palestinian Football Association
Jaba’ Sports Club
Beit Sourik Club
Palestinian Sports Academy
Mount of Olives Club
Al-Quds University – Abu Dis
Anata Youth Club
Anata’s Jerusalemite Youth Club
Jabal Al-Mukaber Club
Islamic Silwan Club
Al Jib Sports Club
Young Men’s Muslim Association – Al-Ram / YMMA
Hilal Al-Quds Club
Jerusalem Hilal Club 
Jerusalem Association of Martyr’s Families
Jerusalem Scouts Commission
Jerusalem Clubs League
Palestine Table Tennis Federation
Employee’s Club
Elia Youth Media Association
Elia Association for Youth
Beit ‘Anan Club

[1] See, for example, UN Security Council Resolutions 447 (1979); 465, 471 and 478 of 1980; ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Israeli Wall in occupied Palestinian territory, 9 July 2004.

[2] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/331 See also: UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, A/HRC/4/17 (29 Jan 2007); UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, A/HRC/16/72 (10 January 2011); Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Cape Town Session: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/south-africa/south-africa-session-%E2%80%94-full-findings/cape-town-session-summary-of-findings

[3] https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201500/volume-1500-I-25822-English.pdf#sthash.BJds0og9.dpuf

[4] http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=333

[5] http://www.eccpalestine.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/EU_Homs_Jerusalem_Report_2012-1.pdf

[6] For sources see, “From diversity to racial segregation and domination: Palestinians in Jerusalem”, Fact Sheet, Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem. April 2014: http://www.civiccoalition-jerusalem.org/system/files/jerusalem_fact_sheet_4_2014.pdf

[7] Supra, Fact Sheet of the Civic Coalition-Jerusalem.

[8] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/1551-platini-threatens-to-annul-israels-membership-of-uefa

[9] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/footballers-condemn-plans-to-hold-u21-european-championship-in-israel-10120

[10] http://www.thenation.com/blog/178642/after-latest-incident-israels-future-fifa-uncertain


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