FIFA announced on Thursday that shared flights have been arranged to allow Israeli and Palestinian fans to enter Qatar to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Temporary direct charter flights between Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, represent the only official direct flights between the two nations.
The meetings that organized the flights were attended by representatives of FIFA, the operational arm of the 2022 World Cup tournament delivery team, and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Sports. FIFA’s press release noted that “the meeting was held in accordance with Qatar’s commitment to FIFA’s hosting requirements.”
In FIFA’s press release, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “We are delighted that an agreement has been reached for Israeli and Palestinian fans to visit Qatar and attend matches during the World Cup of FIFA. With this agreement, Israelis and Palestinians will be able to fly together and enjoy football together.”
A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 organizing committee said in the statement: “Since we won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have always said that all ticket holders will be able to attend matches in Qatar. The Today’s announcement illustrates our commitment to respecting FIFA’s accommodation policies and requirements, including the right of everyone to attend matches.
“This also includes the requirement that Palestinian ticket holders and media can travel on these chartered flights without restrictions as they have the same right to enjoy the tournament, which is made very special as it is the first World Cup A world that is organized in the Arab and Muslim world”.
Qatar does not share diplomatic relations with Israel, but a temporary consular services office will be established during the tournament to serve Israeli visitors.
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Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Alon Ushpiz said: “Today’s announcement will allow Israeli citizens to travel freely to Qatar and attend World Cup matches. We have successfully achieved all guarantees, including access to consular services for Israelis during their stay in Qatar.”
Two of Qatar’s neighboring Gulf Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed historic normalization deals with Israel in 2020, but despite direct flights to the World Cup, a Qatari official told CNN that the position of the country on normalization “has not changed”.
“Qatar’s position remains firmly linked to the resolution of the Palestinian issue, including a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Arab Peace Initiative. We have not seen any positive developments in the process recently of peace that deserves a change in our policy,” the official said.
The Qataris had insisted that Palestinians could fly from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv and relayed to Israel that any escalation leading to violence in Jerusalem, Gaza or the West Bank during the World Cup “will risk the cancellation of the agreement”. including direct flights,” a source briefed on the matter, but not authorized to speak publicly, told CNN.
The source added that Qatar’s insistence on allowing the Palestinians to fly out of Ben Gurion caused the talks to stall “for a while”.
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More than 8,000 Palestinians and 3,800 Israelis have bought tickets for the tournament, the source said.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the news and said that after “hard work for many months, we have arranged for Israeli citizens to fly to the World Cup in Qatar with direct flights and the opening of an office Israeli. in Qatar to provide services to fans coming to the World Cup.”
The Qatari official said: “This is part of Qatar’s commitment to FIFA’s hosting requirements and should not be politicised. We have always said that anyone with a ticket to a World Cup match will be able to enter Qatar. Thanks to this agreement, the Palestinians will now be able to enjoy the first World Cup in the Arab and Muslim world.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup runs from November 20 to December 18.