A friendly football match between Bahrain and Palestine that is set to take place in the West Bank next month has drawn criticism from parliament, civil society groups and some of the players who say the match amounts to a step towards normalisation of relations with Israel.More evidence, as if any was needed, that the people who pretend to support Palestinian Arabs the most are the ones who do the least for them, and that hate for Israel is much stronger than any love they have for "Palestine."
Bahraini players and team delegates would have to be approved and have their passports stamped by the Israeli authorities – who control the West Bank’s entry and exit points – and that has been at the heart of the controversy.
“Even if the passports of the players were not stamped by the Israeli authorities, the BFF should not justify the normalisation policy because such a visit would still count as complicity [with Israel],” the Islamic Brotherhood MP Naser al Fadalah said in parliament on Tuesday.
He also criticised the foreign minister for pushing ahead with what he described as efforts to normalise relations with the “Zionist entity”, which continues to “desecrate” Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to Muslims, and kill Palestinians.“The support for holding the game clearly reveals continued plans by the Bahraini government to impose normalisation with the Zionist enemy on the Bahraini people,” the society’s spokesman, Abdulla Malik, said. “The Arab governments that continue to march into the quagmire of normalisation and surrender to US and Zionist conditions are trying under various means to convince their people and encourage them to normalise relations with the Zionist entity and fool them by alleging that holding sporting, cultural or technical events in the occupied territories does not reflect normalisation with the Zionists.”
The Bahrain Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy also criticised the move, describing it as an obvious attempt to normalise relations with Israel, and called on the players to refuse to participate in the match.
Mr Malik also appealed to the players to refuse to participate in the game as other Arab players and coaches have done before, calling on Islamic leaders here to issue edicts in line with those issued by Palestinian Islamic scholars that say any visits to the occupied territories that involve Israel’s stamping of the visitor’s passport is considered normalisation.“The team is against playing in the occupied territories. It is against our morals and beliefs, which oppose the occupation and the Zionist entity,” said Hussain Ali, one of the team’s strikers, who is nicknamed “Bilay” after the Brazilian legend, Pele.
Many of the players have also publicly announced that they oppose taking part in the game.
“Even if a decision is taken to send the team I will decline to participate. I refuse to have an Israeli stamp in my Bahraini passport.”The match is set for May 28 and will be played at the Faisal al Husseini stadium in Al Ram, near Jerusalem, and while no final decision has been made yet on whether it will take place, it remains highly unlikely that the BFF would be able to convince the players to take part in it.
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