After long diplomatic negotiations that included representatives of FIFA – the world soccer federation – Israeli citizens will be able to enter Qatar to attend the world cup soccer tournament which will be held there this fall.
Previously, Israeli citizens could only enter Qatar for such events if they also held another nation’s passport. But now Israeli soccer fans can travel to the games as Israelis.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Sports Minister Chili Tropper released a joint statement on Thursday revealing the good news.
Israeli leaders acknowledged the diplomatic importance of this achievement and expressed hope that this could lead to better relations with Qatar.
Qatar – home to the Al Jazeera news network – has traditionally been one of the most hostile of the Arab nations in its position on Israel.
Yair Lapid said, “The love of soccer and sport connects people and states and the World Cup in November opens a gate for us to [establish] new warm relations [with Qatar}. I congratulate all the partners and await the beginning of the competition.”
Benny Gantz tweeted, “After hard work: Happy to update that Israelis can come to Qatar to watch the World Cup games. Qatar is a country of international importance, which also contributes to maintaining stability in our region and I welcome the important move.”