However, while Israeli and Palestinian political leaders seem unlikely to meet for peace talks anytime soon, it is possible that in the coming days the heads of the two soccer associations will come face to face to prevent a crisis in international soccer.
On Wednesday, after a meeting with the chairman of the Israeli association, Ofer Eini, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he would try to bring the Israeli and Palestinian chairmen together to find a solution before the soccer governing body's congress at the end of the month.
Earlier this week, Eini sent a letter to the 209 heads of associations in FIFA accusing the Palestinians of mixing politics and sport. He wrote that the Israeli association is in an unjustified situation “without having done anything that contravenes FIFA regulations, without having hurt any other FIFA member and without violating the rules of the game.”
According to the chairman of the Palestinian association, Jibril Rajoub, however, Palestinian attempts to blacklist Israel in international soccer stem from the obstacles placed by Israel on the development of the sport in the Palestinian territories.
From the hosting of international teams, even for friendly matches, to the transfers of players between leagues and even the acquisition of sporting equipment, Palestinian soccer is never free from Israeli harassment, Rajoub said in a recent interview with the online news outlet al-Monitor.
Despite this, Palestinian soccer is growing stronger. In 2014, the Palestinian team reached its highest ranking, with FIFA listing it as the 85th best in the world. This year, for the first time, the team earned a place in the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Cup, the most important competition for Asian teams after the World Cup.
Attempts last year to resolve the Palestinian Football Association’s problems with Israel have failed and promises by the Israelis to ease up on restrictions never materialized, Rajoub said in an interview with the news agency Reuters.
Rajoub, a member of the ruling Fatah party in the West Bank, claims he has broad support among FIFA members for the motion to suspend Israel, which would prevent the country's team from participating in international matches. The proposal needs a three-quarters majority to pass.
"I don't think anything will change in the next few weeks. We are close to crossing the bridge and no one can stop us having the proposal on the agenda, even if some people would rather it was not," said Rajoub, according to Reuters.