Arab-Israelis called up to National Team

Could the landscape of Palestinian Football be changing? Five players that participated in the friendly against Sudan are Israeli Arabs and have played with various clubs in the lower division of the Israeli league. These players include goal scorer Mohammed Jamal who previously played for Haopel Umm Al-Fahm (a third tier club) and will be in the ranks of Al-Am'ary next season. Hatem Karim who had a fine game partnering Abdelatif Bahdari in defence played for Haopel Bnei Lod (a second tier club) last season and will join Jerusalem club Jabal Al-Mokaber. The other three players featured as substitutes Atef Abu Bilal, formerly of Bnei Eilat (fourth tier) will join the oryxes of Dhaherieh,Husam Abu Saleh who plays for Hilal al-Quds (Jerusalem), and Ahmed Harbi who made the jump to Al-Am'ary from Haopel Umm Al-Fahm last year.

The big question mark is how we managed to do this. This friendly, unlike the one against Dynamo Moscow was a FIFA-sanctioned friendly. The players must, in turn, have documents that prove their citizenship. Simply turning up with a foreign passport and claiming Palestinian ancestry will not do. Moreover, Israeli citizens are not allowed into Gaza and most Area A locations in the West Bank where these clubs are based. In fact, the acquisition of a PA passport (if, they indeed acquired them) might cause some of these players to lose their Israeli citizenship according to Article 11 of the Israeli Nationality Law which outline three circumstances which could result in citizenship being revoked:

  • If the person entered a state which is considered an enemy state or if he got a citizenship at the enemy state.
  • If the person committed an act which is considered a breach of loyalty to the country.
  • If the person's citizenship was given to him/her on the basis of false information. The revocation of a citizenship which was given based on false information which was handed in in order to obtain it might apply even to the citizenships of the children of person.

I'm no expert on Israeli citizenship laws... so if you have any additional information let us know with a comment. Alternatively you can search this Wikipedia category and tell us who you'd like to see play for the national team.