World Cup to bring thousands of Israeli fans to Qatar under new travel deal


The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced today that Jerusalem has reached a deal with fifathe international football association, direct charter flights between Ben Gurion Airport and Hamad International Airport in Qatar during the World Cup. Israel and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations and there are no direct flights between the countries.

According to a prior agreement reached five months ago, World Cup flights from Tel Aviv were due to stop in Larnaca and then continue to Doha. Israelis wishing to attend the tournament must first purchase a ticket for a match and then apply online for a fan ID card. Cardholders benefit from a qatar entry visa, allowing them to book flights and hotel rooms. Passengers would not have to change planes and the crew would continue with them. Israeli fans can also travel to Jordan, Turkey or the United Arab Emirates to catch a direct flight to Qatar.

The new agreement will shorten flight times and reduce the cost of airline tickets. It will also allow Palestinians to travel directly to Doha for the games.

The new agreement also allows Jerusalem to send a team to provide Israeli supporters with consular services in Doha. The Israeli office will be temporary – only for the duration of the World Cup – and does not reflect a change in diplomatic relations. Still, it will be the first time that official Israeli representatives have operated openly in Qatar since ties were severed two decades ago.

Cellular service is still under negotiation. Israel has submitted a request to FIFA and the United Nations International Telecommunications Union to cellular access in Qatar. Jerusalem wants Israelis to be able to use Qatar’s cellular networks. Until now, Qatari mobile phone companies have refused to cooperate with Israeli companies.

A reported 30,000 Israelis are expected to travel to Qatar in the coming days to witness the highly anticipated world Cup football tournament. According to reports, more than 20,000 Israelis have already bought tickets and more are expected to buy tickets this week before the games open on November 18.

Israelis are normally not allowed to enter the country with their Israeli passport. But one of the conditions laid down by FIFA, the international football association, for countries hosting the World Cup is to open the matches to all supporters.

After the 1993 Oslo accords, Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office with two Israeli diplomats and their families staying in Doha. But when the second Intifada broke out in 2000, the office was closed and relations were severed. Since then, Qatar has repeatedly stated that it will not follow the example of the Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel until a Palestinian state is established. Qatar is also known for its close ties with Gaza-based Hamas and Iran. Nevertheless, Israeli authorities have yet to issue warnings about security concerns for Israelis traveling to Qatar for the World Cup.

Foreign Ministry Director Alon Ushpiz thanked FIFA and the Qatari hosts today, noting: “Today’s announcement will allow Israeli citizens to travel freely to Qatar and attend matches. of the World Cup. We successfully obtained all guarantees, including access to consular services for Israelis. during their stay in Qatar. As the first ever World Cup in the Middle East, it promises to be a celebration of football and an opportunity for Israelis to connect and share cultural experiences with people across our region and around the world. .”


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