Soccer / FIFA Wants VIP Status for PA Sports Chief

Jibril Rajoub, a former Fatah militant, was head of the PA's Preventive Security Force in the West Bank until his dismissal in 2002.

FIFA is asking Israel to return VIP status to Palestinian soccer union president Jibril Rajoub, allowing him to enter Israel without security checks.

The Zurich-based global soccer governing body said on Wednesday that it asked the Israeli soccer association to help secure Rajoub's "freedom of movement." Rajoub, a former Fatah militant, was head of the PA's Preventive Security Force in the West Bank until his dismissal in 2002.

An Israeli defense official said Rajoub's status was lowered last month along with another Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, because they had "incited to violence against Israel."

He was speaking on condition of anonymity according to protocol. He said they can travel freely in and out of Israel but now need to show credentials and can be subject to security checks.

The status change came after the UN endorsed a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Sharon Bukov