Qatar: The Debate On The Conflict Between Israel And Palestine Is Felt In The World Cup

The 'obligation' to establish diplomatic relations, at least for a month, between Qataris and Israelis has opened the debate on the recognition of the Jewish country by various Arab countries. Although Qatar does not recognize Israel as a nation, there have been unseen overtures since 1996, when Israel opened a trade office in the emirate.

Flags of Qatar, Israel and Palestine

Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | David García Pedraza

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Leer en español: Catar: El debate sobre el conflicto entre Israel y Palestina se siente en el Mundial

What position do you have in Israel? It was one of the questions that FIFA asked Qatar's candidacy in the framework of the applications to be chosen as the venue for 2022. Faced with this questioning, the emirate would accept the entry of Israelis into the Arab nation if the Hebrew team was one of those classified.

Although the Israeli team does not dispute the cup, flights from Tel Aviv to Doha and vice versa have been a reality, at least since November 20, when the first plane full of soccer fans left. It is assumed that this air route will be eliminated after December 18, the closing day of the World Cup.

With this gesture, Qatar and Israel are trying to reopen diplomatic efforts, with FIFA as a guarantor, to show that soccer can unite people. However, these two countries are not without trade relations, only of a diplomatic nature when Qatar cut all government contact with Israel over Operation Cast Lead' where Gaza was heavily bombed for 20 days.

Some Intermittent And Emotional Relationships

For Arab countries, thinking about recognizing the State of Israel was unimaginable until i979 when one of the giants, Egypt, was the first to do so to cover the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan then joined in 1994 and in this millennium the countries of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan have begun to establish relations with the Hebrew country.

Qatar, which is no stranger to the region, viewed this normalization of relations with the Israelis with caution and has had purely commercial rapprochements since 1996, briefly diplomatically, and, as now within the framework of the World Cup, Doha has carried out exceptions to allow the entry of Israelis to enjoy the matches. For its part, its great neighbor, Saudi Arabia, allowed the entry of Israeli planes through its airspace, an action questioned by several Arab nations and where the Palestinian cause is present daily.

However, Qatari society has not forgotten the bombing of the offices of Al-Jazeera, a large Qatari news channel, in Gaza by the Israeli air force in May 2021. Neither has the murder of the Palestinian journalist from the same outlet. , Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of the Hebrew army, in the middle of a military operation with Palestinian protesters.

The Arab Protest Over The Palestinian Cause

Despite small acts of diplomacy between Doha and "West Jerusalem", the Arabs do not forget the Palestinian cause, and what better way to inspire more people to join the cause than by using the World Cup to spread their ideas?

Several of the most emblematic moments in which Palestine has stood out have originated with the Moroccan team, dedicating their victories to the Palestinians and their cause, by displaying the flag of that nation when celebrating their progress in the World Cup.

Another way to protest the struggle for the liberation of Palestine has been to confront Israeli journalists through Arab fans. One specific example was a Saudi fan yelling at an Israeli journalist saying ''You are not welcome. There is no Israel, only Palestine. But this has not only been limited to Arab or Muslim fans, there have also been cases of protest by European or South American fans to the questions of reporters from Israeli networks.

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For these cases, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Hebrew citizens to reduce acts that incite conflict and to keep items that demonstrate Israeli citizenship, such as flags or items with the Star of David.

Despite being a hot topic, the State of Qatar is more flexible when it comes to talking about the Palestinian cause, since, along with Iran, they are the ones that make themselves feel the most so that the State of Palestine is a reality on paper. and in the real world. This, perhaps, has been the only progressive issue to which the Qatari authorities allow free expression, a freedom that LGBTI groups, feminists, and NGOs do not enjoy, especially the latter in being open to carrying out investigations into labor exploitation in Qatar.

Score A Goal Against Indifference

The Arab-Israeli conflict has continued to this day since 1948 officially with the creation of the State of Israel, and much has been written on this subject. However, it is to be admired, whether through pressure or diplomacy, the changes that have been taking place since the 1990s in this region.

The Middle East has been a region disputed by religious beliefs, natural resources, and territorial and ideological power, and Qatar 2022 has been a bridge for Arabs to "play local" and express to the world their disagreements, and struggles and eliminate social prejudices due to its origin since all the foreign press is located in its territory.

It is not known what will happen after December 18 between Israel and Qatar, but the photos and memories that soccer can break down borders that were thought impossible to demolish will remain for the history books, and that, as a first step to achieving cordiality in the region, it may serve as a guarantor for Israelis, Arabs, and Palestinians to realize that there is a will on both sides to dialogue and end the conflict between the children of Abraham.

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