Israelis and Palestinians to share World Cup flights to Qatar

Fifa says charter flights to Doha from Tel Aviv will be open to all Palestinians

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Football fans from Israel and the Palestinian territories can share flights to the World Cup in Qatar in a breakthrough agreement announced by Fifa on Thursday.

Charter flights to Doha from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv for matches starting on November 20 will be open to all Palestinians, Fifa said.

This includes residents from the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip who typically cannot travel through Israel’s main airport.

Though Israel and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations, a temporary consular service will be set up in Doha for the tournament.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the agreement was the result “hard work over the course of many months”.

A Qatari government statement said the travel arrangement was “part of Qatar’s commitment to Fifa’s hosting requirements and it should not be politicised”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Fifa, Israel, and Qatar on the “historic step” of opening direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha for the duration of the World Cup.

“Today’s announcement is a historic development and an important step that also holds great promise to bolster people-to-people ties and economic relations,” he said.

“As President Biden has said, building regional integration in the Middle East and beyond brings prosperity and security to the people of the region.

“We welcome the statement that this move will benefit Israeli and Palestinian soccer fans alike, as a step towards expanding greater freedom of travel for all consistent with Qatar’s pledge that all are welcome at the World Cup.

“The United States will continue to engage with Israel and our partners across the region for the benefit of all, and commends Qatar and Israel, both close partners of the United States, for their leadership and spirit of sportsmanship that they have demonstrated with this development.”

The first World Cup to be hosted in the Middle East and an Arab nation will run from November 20 to December 18.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 5:39 AM