Report: Israel trying to use World Cup to reboot ties with Qatar

Jerusalem in talks with Doha to establish temporary office in Qatar to help soccer fans traveling to World Cup – with an eye to quietly establish de facto ties with the Gulf Arab state.

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli government is in talks with Qatar in a bid to secure a temporary consular presence in the Gulf Arab state for an upcoming soccer tournament – and is reportedly hoping to turn that temporary presence into a permanent de facto diplomatic relationship.

This year’s FIFA World Cup is slated to be held in Qatar from November 20th through December 18th, presenting a challenge to Israeli soccer fans hoping to take in the event in person.

Qatar has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, making travel to the Gulf State difficult for Israeli passport holders.

In December 2019, after Qatar was selected to host the World Cup, Doha vowed to adhere to FIFA’s Code of Ethics, which bans discrimination against foreign nationals seeking to attend FIFA events. As such, the Gulf state agreed to allow Israeli passport holders to enter the country for the World Cup.

“Everyone is welcome,” Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for the Qatar World Cup, told ESPN. “We do not mix sport and politics, but we would hope that Palestinians are able to make it too.”

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With tens of thousands of Israelis expected to travel to Qatar – the first time Israeli nationals have been permitted to enter the country on their Israeli passports – Israel has expressed concerns over the lack of any consular services for Israeli travelers in Qatar.

To remedy the situation, Jerusalem has reached out to Doha, with the goal of opening up a temporary consular office in Qatar to provide services to Israeli travelers.

According to a report by Kan, Israel is hoping to use the opening as a springboard for the establishment of de facto diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Qatar cut all diplomatic ties with Israel following Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and Doha is said to be wary of Israeli overtures.

Doha has also demanded that Israel permit residents of the Palestinian Authority to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, though the demand has little practical impact, given that there are no direct flights between Israel and Qatar.