‘Qatar orders Israel and Israel obeys’: Al Jazeera gives pro-Palestinian spin to World Cup direct flights story

LONDON: Al Jazeera Arabic published a tweet on Thursday with the headline “Israel obeys Qatar’s orders” that claimed the Mediterranean nation was only allowed to attend the world cup for obeying the Gulf host country’s orders. 

The tweet read “#Israel_obeys_Qatars_orders, This hashtag topped the trending lists in Qatar and other Arab countries after FIFA announced that Doha and Tel Aviv had reached an agreement allowing the arrival of football fans from Israel, provided that they are not transported by Israeli aircraft. Tweeters celebrated Qatar’s success in imposing its conditions, thus allowing more Palestinian fans to enjoy the football matches.”



While unprecedented flights from Israel to Qatar have been announced, the fact that Al Jazeera Arabic spun the news to claim that Israeli fans and ticketholders were allowed to enter the country based on obeying certain orders from the Gulf country are misleading. 

Longstanding tradition with international sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have been arenas where citizens from any and all countries are welcomed to host nations — even though participation in these events has been subject to political squabble. 

Before a host-country is selected, FIFA requires a government guarantee with regards to various legal issues, such as security, infrastructure, tax law, customs, and visa procedures.

As it stands, Qatar has banned entry to the country of anyone not attending or participating in or watching the world cup, with the exception of Qatari nationals and residents.

The nature of the direct flights between the two nations gained positive reactions from influential policy makers such as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who tweeted:“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.”



US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also tweeted that “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 @USMNT!”



Qatatri media and journalists, however, took advantage of this opportunity to misleadingly present a show of strength. 

Qatari journalist Jaber Al-Harmi tweeted a list of conditions assumingly placed by Qatar on Israel to allow it to send its fans to the World Cup. 



“Allow Palestinians to travel to #Qatar; ‎Any escalation during this period will threaten to cancel flights between the two parties; 8000 Palestinians obtained approval to attend,” he wrote.

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