Photo Credit: Photo by Masarath Alkahaili
In Historic Move, World Cup Deal Enables Direct Flights To Qatar From Israel
CNN reported, “for the first time, direct flights from Tel Aviv, Israel to Doha, Qatar will ferry fans to one of the sporting world’s biggest events – and between two countries that have no diplomatic relations.”
It Was Cause For Celebration
Some “180 soccer fans” celebrated alongside Israeli officials. The gate was decorated with balloons and there was cake.
One passenger told CNN, “it’s historic. We didn’t expect this and I don’t know if there [will be] another time to do this.”
Usually, Israelis Can't Visit Qatar
CNN explained, “although Israelis typically can’t visit Qatar, as part of the deal with FIFA for hosting the tournament, the Gulf state had to let them in. But the direct flights were not initially part of the plan.”
FIFA was able to strike a deal in November.
They announced, “as part of the deal, direct flights from Israel to Qatar would be allowed – as long as Palestinians could fly on them as well.”
There Were Hurdles for Palestinian Travelers
CNN said that “Palestinians living in occupied territories can’t fly from Ben Gurion airport without special permission from Israeli authorities.”
It’s not easy to get.
Because the deal was announced at the last minute, “most of the passengers on the first flight were Israeli passport holders – not Palestinians from the occupied territories.”
Amir Assi, one of the people coordinating Palestinian travel to the World Cup, told CNN:
“If there had been permission months ago, there would every day be a Palestinian flight.”
“But because we want this pilot [project] to win – even if there are fewer Palestinian passengers, this is still good for the future, a message also … that there should be more cooperation with Palestinians for future flights and events.”
The FIFA President Is Hopeful
World Cup, much like the Olympics, brings the world together in sport.
Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president said, “with this deal, Israelis and Palestinians will be able to fly together and enjoy football together.”
He added, “the historic announcement provides a platform to improve relations across the Middle East.”