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Qatar allows Israelis to attend 2022 World Cup despite absence of diplomatic ties

People gather around the official countdown clock showing remaining time until the kick-off of the World Cup 2022, in Doha, Qatar, on November 25, 2021. (File photo by AP)

Israelis will be allowed to travel to Qatar to watch the 2022 World Cup games despite the absence of diplomatic relations between Doha and Tel Aviv, Israeli ministries say.

A joint statement by the Israeli regime’s defense, foreign, and sports ministries said on Thursday that “FIFA has confirmed that Israelis will be able to enter Qatar during the World Cup and watch games,” adding that the move will open “a new door” for diplomatic ties with Doha.

According to the statement, Israeli officials reached the agreement with FIFA after months of talks and “efforts,” despite the failure of the Israeli team to qualify for the championship.

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter that the development was a “diplomatic feat” that opens the door to “new warm relationships.”

The development comes while an increasing number of athletes throughout the Muslim world are shunning Israel opponents in protest against the Tel Aviv regime’s atrocities against Palestinians and its occupation of their homeland.

Palestinians censure any move in the direction of normalizing relations with Israel as a betrayal of their cause.

An Israeli diplomatic source said on Friday that the agreement does not extend to direct flights between the two countries.

However, Israel’s leading daily Haaretz reported that “efforts continue on working out how Israelis will be able to fly to Qatar.”

Doha is set to host the first World Cup in the Middle East, starting in late November.

The Persian Gulf periphery state cut commercial ties with Israel in 2009, after the first of four wars between the regime’s military and the Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas.

Unlike four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, which normalized their ties with Israel in 2020 – Qatar has conditioned its normalization with the regime on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Earlier in March, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani strongly denounced the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, stating that much of the international community has been neglecting the issue for decades.

“Millions of Palestinians have been suffering from the Israeli occupation and international neglect for more than seven decades,” Sheikh Tamim said at the opening of the 20th edition of the Doha Forum international conference in the Qatari capital on Saturday.

He stressed that “the international community has failed to render justice” to Palestinians and other peoples in the region.

Last year, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stated that the kingdom will not normalize with Israel unless the regime ends its occupation of Palestinian territories, and the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

The main reason Qatar doesn’t have relations with Israel “is the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” Al Thani told CNBC television news network at the time.

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