Qatar has repeatedly expressed its staunch refusal to normalise with Israel.
Officials from Qatar have allegedly recently pushed Israel to permit Palestinian fans to attend the World Cup without obstacles, according to local Israeli reports, just weeks ahead of the much-anticipated global event.
Doha aims to present the major football event as apolitical and guarantee full access for “both Israelis and Palestinians,” sources privy to the matter said, according to reports.
The Qatari officials reportedly made the request in an effort to mediate between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority to avoid an episode from a few years back in which the Zionist regime forbade the Palestinian team from competing in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, the sources added.
It remains unclear how many Palestinians have queried to leave the occupying state of Israel for Qatar to watch the games. However, an Israeli diplomatic source told AFP in June that there will be no direct flights between Doha and Tel Aviv during the World Cup.
Qatari authorities have yet to comment publicly on the matter.
It also comes as a senior Israeli official reportedly claimed the two countries had recently discussed setting up a temporary Israeli office in the Gulf country to serve “the needs of the event”.
However, Israel’s foreign ministry denied such reports, according to i24News.
Up to 10,000 Israeli citizens with passports are anticipated to make a “rare” travel to Qatar on a “temporary visa” basis to attend the competition, recent estimates suggest, local Israeli media reported.
However it is unknown how many of those are Palestinians.
As per policies by the global footballing body, FIFA requires all World Cup host nations to grant access without discrimination to all ticket holders.
Despite this, Qatar has remained vocal in its criticism of Israeli aggression against Palestinians, repeatedly expressing its staunch refusal to normalise with Israel.
The latest developments also comes as Doha has in recent years elevated its status as a globally recognised mediator, which has arguably served as its most strategic move on the geopolitical stage.
More recently, Qatar was a crucial player to ending Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of Palestinians were killed in a three-day offensive.
Blocking Palestinian access to sports
Palestinian athletes have long faced ongoing obstacles when participating in international competitions. Within the borders, Palestinian footballers struggle to find places to play due to destruction of facilities across Palestinian lands by Israeli forces.
In 2019, Israel essentially cancelled the Palestine Cup by denying Gazan players travel permits. This has been highlighted by rights groups as just one example of various flagrant human rights abuses committed by the occupying state in an effort to isolate Palestinians both at home and abroad.
Israel’s restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are highly repressive, with at least 700 obstacles placed around the West Bank and up to 140 checkpoints.
Palestinians and activists from all around the world have long accused FIFA of ignoring letters to suspend the Israeli Football Association’s membership.