US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called an agreement allowing Israelis to travel to Qatar to attend the World Cup a “historic step” that promises “to bolster people-to-people ties and economic integration.”
FIFA made the announcement on Thursday, saying Palestinians and Israelis can travel on the charter jets to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East.
Direct charter flights will operate between Tel Aviv and Doha during the World Cup, allowing Israelis and Palestinians holding match tickets and a valid Hayya fan ID to board flights that will operate direct from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Doha’s Hamad International Airport by an airline with pre-existing landing rights in Qatar.
The announcement drew praise from US senior officials.
In a tweet, Blinken said: “I welcome FIFA’s announcement of direct flights between Qatar and Israel for the World Cup. This step bolsters people to people ties and economic integration, while encouraging freedom of travel for all, both Israeli and Palestinians.”
I welcome FIFA’s announcement of direct flights between Qatar and Israel for the World Cup. This step bolsters people to people ties and economic integration, while encouraging freedom of travel for all, both Israeli and Palestinian.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 11, 2022
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also welcomed the announcement.
“Excited about this important step to further build people to people ties and integrate Israel into the region. We will be cheering on Team USA!”
Thursday’s announcement was confirmed by Israel’s premier Yair Lapid and world football’s governing body, FIFA.
“Today’s historic announcement provides a platform to improve relations across the Middle East,” said Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, at the time.
“Direct charter flights will be temporarily operated between Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and Hamad International Airport in Doha by an airline with existing landing rights in Qatar for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, subject to Israel’s security requirements and operational capabilities,” the FIFA press statement said.
Consular assistance to Israeli visitors in Qatar during the November 20 to December 18 tournament will be provided through a Doha-based travel company, FIFA said.
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