Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog on Thursday threw his support behind Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments against the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid to have Israel banned from FIFA.
“Boycotting Israel would be a red penalty card for FIFA and a fall into a dangerous trap of hypocrisy,” Herzog wrote on his Facebook page. “I advise FIFA to come to its senses and stay away from delusional ideas which harm international sports and their ability to be a tool which brings individuals and countries closer.”
He noted that he had discussions with Netanyahu and with the chairman of the Israeli Football Association Ofer Eini and that "I assured them that I am fully prepared to join this campaign. Boycotts or unilateral measures are bad ideas. The State of Israel will not back down and not be alarmed because of these kinds of moves.”
Herzog added, “Threats will not lead us to an agreement, but will distance us from the goal of achieving security and peace for hundreds of thousands of children who dream of one day playing in the World Cup.”
In remarks made earlier, Netanyahu addressed the PA demand that Israel be banned from international soccer competitions with FIFA, saying, "The attempt to harm Israel will destroy FIFA, because if it starts with one state it will go on to a second state and this will collapse the organization.”
He added, "the attempt to suspend Israel is very serious and we will oppose it with full strength."
Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid lashed out at FIFA earlier on Thursday, listing a number of countries that have far worse track records than the Jewish state and which the soccer body has not targeted.
"Syria – a quarter of a million people dead, four million refugees, government using poison gas against civilians, the wholesale murder of children."
"Iran – brutal suppression of the Sunni minority, executions, financing terror throughout the world, violent repression of women, the elimination of homosexuals, the only country in the UN openly threatening to destroy another country (us)."
"Saudi Arabia – dozens of executions per month. Eritrea – thousands of prisoners detained without trial and appallingly tortured in prison. Sudan – thousands of people dead, two million displaced," Lapid summed up.
But FIFA is actually conducting a discussion on the possibility of banning Israel, Lapid continued, in an angry critique of the double standard the Jewish state is held to in various international arenas.
"Israel – the only country whose army warns its enemies before bombings, maintains international law even when a terror organization fired indiscriminate missiles on it last years, and its minorities sit in parliament and have equal rights."
"This is not only hypocritical, it's madness," the Yesh Atid chairman slammed.