Egypt says ‘impossible’ to hold friendly football match with Israel

The Israeli Embassy’s suggestion appeared to be an attempt to extend an olive branch of peace

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A request this week by the Israeli embassy in Egypt to hold a friendly football match between the national teams of the two countries has been shot down by the sport’s governing body.

“We will not accept to hold any game with any Israeli club or league,” Egyptian Football Association spokesman Azmy Megahed told the Arabic website of Al Arabiya News Channel.

“The idea of playing against any Israeli [sports clubs] is completely rejected no matter what.”

According to Megahed, Israel asked to hold a friendly match due to Egypt’s move of submitting a request to hold the FIBA Under-19 World Championship as Israel has also requested to host this event and is seeking to convince Egypt to withdraw its request, which, in Megahed’s words, would not happen.

The Israeli Embassy’s suggestion appeared to be an attempt to extend an olive branch of peace and help cool tensions between the Israeli and Egyptian people.

In a post on its official Facebook page, the embassy said: “We must imagine a friendly football match between the Israeli and the Egyptian football teams next week. We must imagine holding this game. How do you feel about that? What are your opinions on the matter? Will we one day break this barrier of fear and act as two people who compete in all fields?”

The embassy’s request came one hour after Egyptian television presenter and member of parliament Toufic Okasha was hit by a shoe by a colleague inside the parliament because he hosted the Israeli ambassador for dinner at his house last week.

The embassy had earlier posted about late Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan to reinforce the idea that Israel permanently seeks to establish friendly relations with Egypt.

Nathan was an Israeli peace activist who bought a ship and named it “Peace Ship” to sail to Arab countries in an attempt to achieve peace.

He tried to overcome his country’s historic tensions with the Palestinians following his meeting with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In 1966, Nathan flew to Egypt in his plane named Peace 1 to meet with late Egyptian President Gamal Abdelnasser and hand him a petition calling for peace between Egypt and Israel. However, Egyptian authorities arrested him and deported him back to Israel.

After decades of hostility between Egypt and Israel, which led to several wars, eventually led to a U.S. brokered deal between the two countries in 1978. The historic Camp David Accords, signed between then-President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, remain in effect today.

This article was first published on the Arabic website of Al Arabiya News Channel on Feb. 28, 2016.

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