by Tamara Santos Traubmann
JERUSALEM, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Thursday hailed the decision of the soccer's world govering body to postpone its stance on the controversial issue of Israeli football clubs in the occupied West Bank.
Earlier on Thursday, the Congress of the International Football Association (FIFA) decided to delay a decision on whether to allow the Israel Football Association to continue holding matches in Israeli settlements.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the delay. "We foiled an attempt to undermine Israel's standing in FIFA," he said in an official statement that. "We have triumphed in another battle over our international standing and we will continue to strengthen it," he added.
The postponement was accepted with disappointment by human rights organizations. "The decision (...) means FIFA will continue sponsoring games on stolen land, contrary to its statutes and human rights responsibilities," said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement sent to Xinhua.
"It's not clear why FIFA needs yet another year to decide whether or not to follow its own rules," she added.
She charged that FIFA's pushing through the vote to delay a determination on the settlement club issue shows that FIFA's President Gianni Infantino "is in no hurry to put into practice his promises to bring FIFA into compliance with basic principles of good governance and human rights."
Six football clubs operate in the West Bank, a territory that Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war and had controlled ever since, despite international condemnation. The settlements are considered illegal under international law.