Palestine and Saudi Arabia will meet in the West Bank on November 5, FIFA have ruled ©FIFA

Next month's FIFA World Cup qualifier between Palestine and Saudi Arabia will take place on Palestinian soil after all, football's world governing body has decided, having initially ruled it must be played on neutral territory.

A long-running dispute about where the fixture should be played has been in progress following an agreement last June to switch the two group ties so the first match would be played in Saudi Arabia and the second in Palestine.

The second match, initially scheduled for October 13, had been due to take place in the Faisal Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram, only for Saudi Arabia to demand it be held in neutral territory due to "exceptional circumstances".

These were undefined but Arab teams have traditionally refused to play in Palestine's West Bank on the grounds it "normalises" Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory.

Any entry into the West Bank involves passing through Israeli land or air-space.

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

FIFA initially ruled in Saudi Arabia's favour, prompting the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to say that the idea of playing one of their home games elsewhere was "impossible".

Following a meeting of the FIFA World Cup Bureau in Zurich under the chairmanship of Paraguay's South American Football Confederation chief Juan Angel Napout, however, it was unanimously agreed that, in view of the agreement made between the two teams last June, the match would be rescheduled to take place in Palestine on November 5.

Palestine faced the United Arab Emirates at the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in Al Ram last month
Palestine faced the United Arab Emirates at the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in Al Ram last month ©AFP/Getty Images

"The Palestinian Football Association has given full security guarantees for the rescheduled match," FIFA said in a statement.

"FIFA has agreed to appoint a security officer who will work hand in hand with the Palestine authorities to supervise the security plan and make sure that the match is played in very good conditions."

Tension between Israel and Palestine has been a key challenge for football's world governing body in recent months.

PFA President Jibril Rajoub, a longstanding political figurehead who also leads the Palestine Olympic Committee, has pushed for Israel to be suspended.

He was persuaded to withdraw his demand during FIFA's Congress in Zurich in May, instead participating in an historic handshake with Israeli counterpart Ofer Enei.

A joint Israeli-Palestine body was introduced, chaired by Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa.

Since then, Palestine played a World Cup qualifier at home for the first time on September 8, drawing 0-0 with the United Arab Emirates.

Having more home games is crucial, according to Rajoub, because it shows, "Palestine exists and that Palestinians have the right to live in their own independent state".

Saudi Arabia currently sit top of Group A in the Asian section of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and beat Palestine, who are third, 3-2 on home soil in Dammam in June.

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