JERUSALEM Dec 1 FIFA has given a Druze
Arab from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights permission to play
for Israel even though he is not a citizen of the country, the
Israel FA said.
Maccabi Haifa's Weaam Amasha is the leading Israeli league
scorer this season with 12 goals from 13 matches and he has
notched six in European club competition but he was unable to
play for Israel because he does not own a passport.
He was born in the Golan Heights territory which Israel
captured from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed in 1981 in a
move that has not been recognised internationally.
Golan Druze are entitled to Israeli citizenship since the
annexation, but most of them, including Amasha, have not taken
up the offer, citing historic links to Syria. Amasha goes
overseas with Maccabi Haifa on an Israeli-issued travel document
which is not a full passport.
"FIFA have decided to take the special case into
consideration and will allow (Amasha) to play for the national
team without a passport," an Israeli FA statement said.
Amasha told reporters on Thursday that he was pleased a
solution had been found.
"I have been waiting for this news for a long time and like
any player, I want to improve and play at the highest level. Now
I must wait to be called up," Amasha said.
Amasha will have to wait to see if he is called up as no
national squad announcement are imminent before Israel name a
coach for their World Cup qualifying campaign starting next
The contract of current coach Luis Fernandez ends in June
and is not expected to be renewed.
(Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Ed Osmond)