Abdallah Jaber (center). (Facebook/Hapoel Hadera) (Facebook/Hapoel Hadera)
Abdallah Jaber Palestinian soccer player

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Israeli-Arab soccer player Abdallah Jaber signed with Israel’s Hapoel Hadera team, but that move will likely get him kicked off the Palestinian national team.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Soccer player Abdallah Jaber, a member of the Palestinian national soccer team, may pay a price for signing to play with a team in Israel’s professional soccer league.

The 27-year-old Israeli citizen who plays at the left fullback position has also played in 56 games with the Palestinian national soccer squad, but might not play with the team ever again, Israel’s Sports-5 news reported.

Over the weekend Jaber signed with Hapoel Hadera, despite Israel’s soccer season being frozen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaber is expected to lose his place in the Palestinian team.

Why? Because the Palestinian soccer association bans any contact with Israeli soccer teams. Indeed, the Palestinians won’t even play friendly exhibition games against Israeli teams.

Jaber holds Israeli citizenship and lives in the small Israeli town of Taibe, about 13 kilometers (7 miles) east of the city of Netanya, which is adjacent to Judea and Samaria. Because he is an Arab and the Palestinian league needs good players, especially those developed in Israel, Jaber has played his professional career in the Palestinian League starting in 2013. He was even good enough to make their national team.

Jaber grew up playing junior soccer in the Hapoel Kfar Saba youth teams. His younger brother, Mohammed Jaber, belongs to Maccabi Haifa and played in for Hapoel Nof Galilee this past season.

He is considered a leader on Team Palestine, with whom he has played in World Cup qualifiers and in international tournaments. Three other Israeli Arabs also play for the Palestinians.

“I played important games with the national team against teams like Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan,” Jaber said. “In the past, I used to use a Palestinian passport to cross through Arab countries, but the very fact that I still have Israeli citizenship hurt me professionally. For example, that prevented me from signing with a team from Egypt.”

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