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Is Palestinian soccer head playing a political game?

Palestinian Football Association Head Jibril Rajoub claimed that Israel prevented West Bank entry of Palestinian soccer players, but Israel argues that it was Rajoub who created an incident so he could score political points.

Of all the senior members of the Palestinian Authority, Jibril Rajoub, who serves as head of the Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs as well as the president of the Palestinian Football Association, has been singled out by Israel as enemy No. 1. Ever since his appointment to this position five years ago, Rajoub has launched a relentless political struggle against Israel at international sporting institutions. In the eyes of senior Israeli defense and political officials, he has moved from being a dialogue partner to being a dangerous provocateur.

In the past, Rajoub was a welcome guest in Israel. He would hold working meetings with defense ministers, senior Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet officials. He was also the bearer of a VIP card that awarded him free passage at border crossings. He was invited to peace-related conferences and conventions and was a favorite interviewee with the Israeli media since he was considered to be the best and most authoritative Palestinian public diplomacy representative. “With him we could do business, reach arrangements, understandings and cooperation. With him we were able to resolve conflicts with the Palestinians on a variety of issues in the best possible way. He always came up with creative solutions and had proven ability to deliver results,” a former Israeli security official, who used to be in daily touch with Rajoub when the latter served as chief of the Palestinian Preventive Security (he was appointed at 1994), told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

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