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Sep 24, 2013

FIFA eases Israel-Palestine tensions

FIFA has confirmed that both the Israeli and Palestinian football associations will appoint a liaison officer to facilitate player movement in and out of the Palestinian territories. 

FIFA and the IOC are due to meet in order to avoid a clash between the World Cup and the Winter Olympics.
Sepp Blatter chaired a meeting between the two football associations.

FIFA confirm winter WC talks

Avi Luzon, the head of the Israeli FA, and his Palestinian counterpart, Jibril Rajoub, met in Zurich on Monday for discussions chaired by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Israel has imposed travel restrictions between it and the Palestinian territories, citing security concerns. However, following the meeting world football's governing body has promised to ease them.

FIFA said in a statement: "Both associations agreed [to]... the appointment of two liaison officers between the two federations to the relevant authorities on each side, who shall report to FIFA in order to facilitate the movement of persons and goods."

Palestinians have long complained that Israeli security forces frequently prevent athletes from travelling freely between the two separate territories through control of movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

However, Luzon has said Israel’s liaison officer will be in regular contact with military personnel in a bid to ease the situation. 

"With the great help of the coordinator of activities in the territories, major-general Eitan Dangot, who is aiding us in the whole process, we will do all we can for there to be proper sporting activity in the West Bank," Luzon said.

The Palestinian FA, a full member of both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, has started holding more regional tournaments despite travel restrictions.

The two territories have recently resumed peace talks, brokered by the United States, after a three-year breakdown. 

Rajoub had previously raised the issue of travel for Palestinian athletes at the FIFA congress in Mauritius in June. There, he said that, should the matter not be resolved, he would call on delegates to expel Israel at the next congress.

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