But the Palestinians have children, too, and theirs are barred from playing on the field in Maale Adumim and others built on land they consider theirs. And thus a conflict over where Israel officially begins and ends has hit a raw nerve on both sides of the murky line, intensified by athletic fervor and community pride. After all, if nothing else, one thing Israelis and Palestinians share is a passion for soccer.
The sport’s governing body, FIFA, is scheduled next month to consider whether to force Israel to bar a half-dozen of its soccer clubs from playing in the occupied West Bank. A report to be released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, concludes that the soccer teams violate FIFA’s policies prohibiting games from being held on the territory of another member without permission.
“Thousands of Palestinian children are being robbed of the chance to play the game they love on the land that’s theirs,” said Fadi Quran, an activist with Avaaz, an advocacy organization that has collected 150,000 petition signatures on the issue.