World Cup: Pro-Palestine advocates ‘salute’ Qatar for listing Palestine instead of Israel – Doha News

People on social media have also pointed to the accuracy in the listing of Israel as an occupying state, given its more than 70 years of illegal occupation of Palestine.

The official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup hospitality booking site has listed ‘Palestine’ as a country option, making no mention of Israel on its list.

The listing, which previously showed as ‘Palestinian Territory, Occupied’ before being changed to ‘Palestine’ received global praise from pro-Palestine supporters while sending Israelis online into a frenzy.

“Qatar removed Israel from the World Cup page and replaces it with the occupied Palestinian territories. Long live Qatar and the amir,” said one Twitter user.

“The truth that the whole world must repeat, there is no such thing as ‘Israel’ but the ‘occupied Palestinian territories’,” said another Twitter user.

Echoing the same sentiment, another Twitter user said “It was called Palestine, and it is called Palestine. Where is the problem?”

“Thank you to Qatar for crossing out the name of Israel from the list of the countries of the World Cup. Salute to the Government of Qatar,” one user added.

The move comes as no surprise as Qatar has long stood with Palestinians against Israel. Unlike some of its neighbours, namely the UAE and Bahrain, Qatar has staunchly refused to join a wave of normalisation in the Arab world that has seen some state establish ties with Israel.

Online, Israelis have condemned Doha for refusing to list Israel as an option on the official website.

“FIFA World Cup removes Israel from its ticketing site…but  Qatar is obligated to give the same treatment to all countries. Can’t we keep anti-semitism out of sports?” tweeted Heath Sloane, Security and Foreign Policy expert.

Israel and pro-Israeli groups have repeatedly resorted to describing all movements and support to the Palestinian cause as “anti-semitic”. 

At the inauguration of the Doha Forum this year, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani warned of the accusations of anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is now used wrongly against everyone who criticises Israel’s policies, and this impinges on the struggle against racism and actual anti-Semitism,” said the Qatari leader in March.

Meanwhile, a similar issue on country labelling arose in June that involved Taiwan and China.

Israel flights

In June, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had announced that Israeli football fans will be able to fly to Qatar for the major sporting event, describing it as “a political achievement”.

However, an Israeli diplomatic source told AFP that there will be no direct flights between Doha and Tel Aviv during the World Cup amid statements confirming access for Israeli football fans into the Gulf state.

With no diplomatic relations between Doha and Tel Aviv, there are currently no direct flights between the two.

While Qatar did open a trade mission for exchanges between Doha and Tel Aviv in the late 1990’s after “hopeful” Madrid-Oslo negotiations, the office was later shut down in the 2000’s following the war on Gaza.

The Gulf state has also committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the time. The initiative states that member countries shall refrain from normalising with Israel until it fully withdraws from lands occupied in 1967.

In recent weeks, Doha has renewed its support of Palestinians, repeatedly condemning ongoing human rights violations by Israeli occupation forces against the indigenous people.

Most recently, Qatar condemned the latest Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, where more than 40 people were killed including at least 15 children.

Sports apartheid

In addition to ongoing land theft by Israel, Palestinian athletes face ongoing obstacles when participating in competitions. 

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 FIFA 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.

More recently, the UAE has come under fire for reportedly signing an agreement with Israel to establish a football pitch in the occupied city of Kafr Qasim, which witnessed a bloody massacre in 1956.

Palestinian writer Majed Zebda said players will be playing on the blood of the massacres’ victims.

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