'Israel Waging Just Struggle Against FIFA Ban'

Netanyahu issues statement amid FIFA vote on PA demand to ban Israel, noting PA move part of opposition to Israel's existence.

Nitsan Keidar, Ari Yashar,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Gili Yohanan/POOL/Flash 90

As the 65th annual FIFA Congress in Switzerland on Friday is poised to vote on whether or not to suspend Israel from international soccer, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reprieved and added to his condemnation of the vote from the night before.

The vote, which was spurred on by the Palestinian Authority (PA) that claimed Israel was "racist," is not only dangerous for Israel but for FIFA itself according to the prime minister.

"In these very days and hours we are managing, together with Ofer Eini and members of the (Israeli) Soccer Association, an uncompromising and just struggle that is unprecedented against the Palestinian attempt to harm the legitimacy of the state of Israel and Israeli soccer," wrote Netanyahu on Facebook.

Addressing Israeli citizens, he added, "it is important that you know: the Palestinian process to ban Israel on the international soccer front does not stem from anything we are doing or not doing. It stems from the opposition to our right to have our own state."

The PA, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, demanded FIFA expel Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian Arab players - the same restrictions imposed on all residents of PA-managed territory so as to combat the threat of terrorism.

According to Netanyahu, Israel will win in fighting the PA attempt to politicize FIFA and ban the Jewish state.

"As I told the FIFA president this week, if FIFA harms Israel it will itself be harmed," warned Netanyahu. "Other states will also use FIFA to settle scores with their rivals and instead of the spirit of international sport that is supposed to rise above politics, we will receive the corruption of soccer by it being subjugated to outside considerations."

He concluded, "blatant politicization will harm FIFA no less than it will harm Israel."