JERUSALEM – FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he hopes to resolve a dispute between Israel and the Palestinians before the World Cup begins.
The Palestinian soccer association has complained to Blatter about Israeli travel restrictions on some of its players. Israel cites concerns about possible attacks by Palestinian militants as the main reason for restrictions on movement.
Blatter said Tuesday he hopes a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the soccer associations and that the document is valid for a year, but will then be extended. Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem, Blatter said he hopes it will be "signed and sealed" before the games begin.
FIFA has meetings scheduled in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 10-11, just before the opening match of the World Cup on June 12.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — areas the Palestinians want for a state — in the 1967 war with Jordan and Egypt. Israel has imposed some travel restrictions on Palestinians in those areas, citing concerns about suicide bombings and other attacks by Palestinian militants. Critics say those restrictions can amount to collective punishment.
On Monday, Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestine Football Association, said if travel restrictions aren't lifted he would call on FIFA to impose sanctions on the Israeli Football Association. He did not elaborate, but has said in the past that he wants Israel suspended by FIFA.
Rajoub said Gaza players are particularly affected by travel restrictions, but there are also delays in getting Israeli entry permits for foreign delegations and visitors.