Basketball Team From West Bank Settlement Should Be Kicked Out of Israel League, Says Ex-pro Player

An Israeli former player says the country's basketball association is violating the rules of the sport's international governing body by allowing membership for the West Bank settlement team

Arie Livnat
Itay Goder
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The Elitzur Shomron basketball team.
The Elitzur Shomron basketball team.Credit: Shomron Regional Council
Arie Livnat
Itay Goder

The Israel Basketball Association is seemingly violating the rules of the sport’s international governing body by allowing the Elitzur Shomron team from the West Bank to play in the Israeli league, according to a letter sent to IBA chairman Amiram Halevy by former Israeli professional basketball player Or Goren.

The letter, sent by attorney Michael Sfard on behalf of Goren, states that the IBA is violating the constitution and rules of the International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, as long as it “allows the basketball club Elitzur Regional Council Shomron, which operates beyond the recognized borders of the State of Israel (beyond the Green Line), to be a member of the association and participate in its enterprises, and especially to play in Israeli leagues,” states the letter.

At the end of last season, the Elitzur Shomron men’s team was promoted to the National League, the second-highest league in Israeli basketball, for the first time in its history.

In his letter, Sfard says the team plays in a Palestinian area and that it should therefore play in the Palestinian league. The Palestinian basketball association has been a member of the sport's international federation since 1963, and its teams play in Asia.

Goren also claimed in his letter that Elitzur Shomron seemingly discriminates against the Palestinian residents of the West Bank by not allowing them to play in the team or attend its home games. Palestinians are not allowed to enter the Israeli settlement of Kfar Tapuach, where the team plays its home games.

Amiram Levi, Head of the Israeli Basketball Association.Credit: Sharon Bokov

Sfard told Halevy in the letter that if Israel's basketball association does not stop allegedly violating FIBA’s rules – seemingly by refraining from removing Elitzur Shomron from the association – he may advise his client to approach the international federation on the matter directly. That, in turn, would put the Israeli association at risk of being sanctioned.

While several other IBA member teams are from the West Bank, as well, the letter only cites Elitzur Shomron.

Neither the IBA nor Elitzur Shomron have responded to the letter.

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