'Palestine Cup' postponed after Israel refuses travel permits

Palestinian Authority soccer final pushed off after Israel refuses to grant travel permits for Gaza players, citing security concerns.

Arutz Sheva Staff, AFP,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)
iStock

The final of the 'Palestine Cup' has been postponed after Israel denied Gaza-based players permits to travel, the Palestinian Football Association said on Wednesday.

The second leg of the final between Balata FC and Khadamat Rafah, the winners of the Judea and Samaria-based league and Gaza league respectively, was due to take place on Wednesday, PFA vice president Susan Shalabi told AFP.

Gaza-based team Khadamat Rafah requested travel permits to Judea and Samaria for 35 people, but Israel granted just four, three of them to club officials, Shalabi said.

"The Israelis are very adamant in their refusal," she added, saying they had cited security concerns they did not specify.

A Khadamat Rafah official told AFP the club were still waiting for final decisions and were hopeful of securing more permits in the coming days.

"We are ready at any moment. If we got the permits now, in 30 minutes we will be there," Hodaifa Lafi told AFP. "The game has to go ahead."

She said it was impossible to discuss a date for the second leg until Israel granted more permits.

There was no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.

The first leg, played on Sunday in Gaza, ended 1-1.

The cup did not take place for 15 years largely over problems with Israeli permits, but resumed in 2015 after world football body FIFA intervened.

But the Palestinian Authority has since accused FIFA of failing to follow its own rules after it decided not to punish Israel for including teams from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

"The way FIFA are dealing with the Israelis is encouraging them to act with impunity," Shalabi said.




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