Netanyahu: Argentina’s match cancellation sets alarming precedent

After Argentina cancelled a soccer match in Jerusalem following Palestinian calls to boycott the Jewish state, Israeli officials attributed the decision to “threats and provocations” involving a star player.

By: World Israel News Staff

Following protracted protests from Palestinian officials, including a plea to burn the jerseys of soccer superstar Lionel Messi, Argentina caved to pressure on Tuesday and announced it would cancel its friendly match in Jerusalem.

While proponents of the boycott, sanctions, and divestment movement (BDS), which seeks at a minimum to isolate Israel economically and culturally, declared the cancellation a victory, Israeli officials placed the decision in the larger context of terrorist threats emanating from the Palestinian political apparatus.

Prior to the match’s cancellation, President of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, told reporters, “[Messi’s] a big symbol so we are going to target him personally, and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We still hope that Messi will not come.”

Reacting on Wednesday to news of the match’s cancellation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “There is the possibility that there will be pressure to cancel other events in various areas and we will do as we see fit,” reported Haaretz. The comment was interpreted as a reference to the potential cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is slated to take place in Jerusalem in 2019.

On Wednesday, Culture Minister Miri Regev accused the Palestinians of using the looming threat of terror to force Argentina to cancel the match, comparing the sequence of events to the 1972 massacre of Israelis at the Munich Olympics.

The Argentine daily Clarín reported that official sources quoted by Argentine president Mauricio Macri had learned that “the players don’t want to play in Israel because of threats against Messi.” Macri reportedly apologized to Netanyahu and clarified that the players’ motives were not political, said the Clarín.