Arab soccer fans at the first World Cup in the Middle East shy away from Israeli journalists in Qatar trying to interview them, illustrating the challenges facing broader peace ambitions two years after some Gulf states forged formal ties with Israel.
The official FIFA World Cup website only has Palestine listed under Asian countries, not Israel. Israel is not listed among the Middle Eastern countries in a section of the FIFA website.
Israeli officials expressed hope that the US-brokered Abraham Accords reached with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020, and later with Sudan and Morocco, will spur further normalization, even with Arab heavyweight Saudi Arabia.
The official accommodation booking website for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar has listed Palestine as a country option instead of Israel. The list previously displayed “Occupied Palestinian Territory” before being changed to “Palestine” and has received mixed reactions on social media, with Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists praising the move and Israelis and Zionist sympathizers calling it “shameful” or “anti-Semitic.”
Israelis looking to purchase a hospitality package for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, which will take place in November, will see that the package that Winterhill Hospitality sells lists the country as “Palestinian” and does not have an option as Israel in Asia and the Middle East. The realization sparked outrage in the Israeli media, though other countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, are also not mentioned on the site.
In a press release, FIFA explained that the “meeting was held in accordance with Qatar’s commitment to FIFA accommodation requirements” and explained that “direct charter flights will be temporarily operated between Ben Gurion Airport, in Tel Aviv, and Hamad International Airport, in Doha, by an airline with headquarters and landing rights in Qatar during the World Cup that will be subject to Israel’s security requirements and operational capabilities.”
According to FIFA, visitors will need a Hayya, the fan identification document required to enter Qatar during the tournament, registered in their name, and a valid plane ticket for travel to and from Qatar.
FIFA indicated that “consular services for Israeli citizens will be provided in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a designated private international travel company based in Doha,” while “Palestinians will have access to services consulars at the Palestinian embassy in Doha.
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