Palestine Football Association President Jibril Rajoub labelled the alleged phone call unprecedented ©Twitter

Palestine Football Association (PFA) President Jibril Rajoub has criticised Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following reports he phoned Gianni Infantino in a bid to pressure FIFA to remove an item from this week's Congress.

The ongoing dispute between the two countries is one of the key issues due to be debated here when the Congress takes place on Thursday (May 11).

The row took a further twist yesterday after it was reported that Netanyahu had personally called the FIFA President.

According to Israeli publication Haaretz, the Prime Minister attempted to persuade Infantino to delete the item regarding the dispute from the Congress agenda.

It is also claimed Netanyahu has lobbied the heads of "several" countries present for the annual meeting here to ensure the discussions concerning the issue are shelved.

Rajoub, who was this week accused of "misusing the sport for his own personal ideology" in a letter sent to Infantino by a group of German Parliamentary deputies, who are siding with the Israel Football Association (IFA), said the phone call was "unprecedented".

"What happened yesterday when the Israeli Prime Minister called Infantino and asked him to delete this item from the agenda of FIFA, this has no precedent in the history of football," Rajoub said following the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Congress.

"But this is what we have.

"I am sure that Mr Infantino is not working for Mr Netanyahu, he was elected by FIFA and he represents the interests and principles of FIFA."

The disagreement centres on six Israeli teams which are based in the occupied territory.

Palestine claim the fact that the six Israeli teams, playing in the settlements of Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Oranit and Tomer, are in territory which they eventually believe will be within the borders of a future Palestinian state goes against FIFA statutes.

Tokyo Sexwale, the head of the Monitoring Committee, is due to provide an update to FIFA this week ©Getty Images
Tokyo Sexwale, the head of the Monitoring Committee, is due to provide an update to FIFA this week ©Getty Images

A Monitoring Committee, led by South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale, has been overseeing the situation since 2015 but a solution has not yet materialised.

It has been claimed that three possible options are being discussed in order to address the situation.

Sexwale, who stood against Infantino for the position of FIFA President last year before dramatically withdrawing in his speech to Congress, is understood to be considering proposing that the organisation give the IFA six months to suspend the teams involved.

Maintaining the status quo and continuing the negotiations between the feuding parties are also under consideration.

It is thought the IFA are resigned to the fact that they may be forced to suspend the clubs.

The PFA were today given the support of the AFC, with President Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa claiming the body "stood united" with Palestine during his address to the Congress.

Shaikh Salman, a member of the FIFA Council, also "strongly urged" FIFA and the Monitoring Committee to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

"The AFC family strongly urges FIFA and the FlFA Monitoring Committee lsrael-Palestine to come up with the best solution as soon as possible, by applying the relevant FlFA Statutes and rules to resolve these longstanding issues," Shaikh Salman said.

"I am sure the FIFA President shares this feeling with us as well. 

"This matter has dragged too long."

In response, Rajoub claimed the backing of the AFC "sent a strong message to the FIFA family".

"It is the time to stop and end the Israeli restrictions and violations of the FIFA statutes," he said.

"I hope the Israelis do understand the message and come up with a clear position that they will stop their violations of the statutes and stop imposing restrictions on the movement of Palestinian footballers."

The Monitoring Committee were scheduled to have a meeting tomorrow but that has now been cut from the programme.

AFC President Shaikh Salman said Palestine had their full backing ©Getty Images
AFC President Shaikh Salman said Palestine had their full backing ©Getty Images

Sexwale and FIFA have been criticised for their work so far, with some claiming they have not done enough to address concerns.

Fears have been raised by human rights groups that they are acting too slowly.

Sexwale's mandate is due to come to an end at the FIFA Congress, set to take place at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Conference Centre.

The two countries remain embroiled in an ongoing conflict, with tensions extending to their respective Football Associations.

Rajoub agreed to drop a proposal to have the IFA suspended from world football's governing body before the 2015 FIFA Congress.

At the meeting, an Israel-Palestine Monitoring Committee was established and its mandate was extended at the 2016 Congress in Mexico City.