Direct Flights from Tel Aviv to Doha to Operate for World Cup
On Thursday, an announcement from FIFA revealed that direct charter flights will operate between Qatar and Israel, during the upcoming World Cup scheduled to take place in Doha.
The two countries do not have any formal diplomatic ties, but the flights between Tel Aviv and Doha are meant to facilitate the attendance of Palestinian and Israeli fans.
The governing body of the soccer world said that the deal had been made for allowing those who had a valid Hayya fan ID and tickets to the matches to travel via flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to the Hamad International in Doha, for the event spanning a month.
According to a Qatari official, the agreement is applicable to all Palestinians, including those who live in East Jerusalem, the West Bank occupied by Israel and the Gaza Strip as well.
Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, said that this deal would allow Palestinians and Israelis to travel and enjoy football together.
The tournament operator in Qatar is Q22 and one of its unnamed spokesperson said that as per the agreement, the chartered flights can be used by Palestinian ticket holders without any restrictions.
The spokesperson stated that they also had an equal right for enjoying the tournament.
Yair Lapid, the Israeli Prime Minister, also issued a statement, in which he said that they had been negotiating for months, which resulted in an agreement.
He said that they had been about setting up an Israeli office in Qatar for catering to fans visiting the country to enjoy the World Cup.
The foreign minister of Israel also said that it had been agreed that an Israeli consular team will set up in Qatar for providing services to Israelis who are going to attend the World Cup.
The spokesperson for the foreign ministry said that the consular team from Israel would operate in Qatar for the tournament’s duration.
The tournament will begin on November 20th and continue till December 18th and is the first to be held in the Middle East.
The spokesperson was also asked about details of the consular team and they only said that they were citizens of Israel with expertise in the field.
The Qatari official did not say much about the consular plans of Israel and only reiterated the statement from FIFA.
A travel company based in Doha would coordinate with the foreign ministry in Israel to provide consular services to Israelis coming for the World Cup in Qatar.
When the announcement about Israeli citizens attending the World Cup had been made in June, Lapid had stated that it opened up new doors for warming ties between the two countries.
The Qatari official said that just because they had decided to operate direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha did not change their stance in terms of normalizing relations because it is concerned with Palestinian statehood.
The official said that this was in accordance with requirements of FIFA and should not be taken in political context.