World Cup ‘dealt a decisive blow to Israel’s illusions’, Palestinian envoy tells UN

Scenes of solidarity with Palestine in Doha showed the difference between the people and their governments who have normalised with Israel.

Palestine is “the winner” of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as tens of thousands in Qatar have shown acts of solidarity throughout the tournament, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said on Thursday.

“The World Cup dealt a decisive blow to Israel’s illusions. The winner of this World Cup is already known, it is Palestine. With its flag carried by people from every corner of the Arab World and the rest of the globe,” Mansour told diplomats at the UN.

The Palestinian envoy reiterated the need for justice in Palestine, saying it would mean that “international law-based order has triumphed over impunity and double standards”.

Mansour’s statement described the scenes in Doha as fans collectively shed light on the Palestinian cause at a crucial time, when the entire globe is focused on the Arab world. 

The Palestinian flag, armband, and black-and-white scarf, known as the keffiyeh, have been spotted all over stadiums, showing a united stance amid the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. Most notably, Palestine is present at the victory of each Arab nation competing at the World Cup. 

On Thursday, stadiums went all red, green, white and black as fans celebrated the Atlas Lions’ win against Canada.

The united acts of support transcended streets and stadiums, with people from all nations waving the Palestinian flag in front of the lens of Israeli cameras in Doha. 

People have also been more vigilant when approached by the media, asking journalists about the identity of their outlets before agreeing to be interviewed.

“Ask Israeli journalists at the World Cup and they will tell you that nothing, nothing can normalise Israeli occupation and nothing can uproot Palestine from the hearts and minds of people,” Mansour added.

The powerful scenes have also proven the different stances of people in comparison with their governments, who have normalised with Tel Aviv. In 2020, Morocco was one of the Arab states, which included Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, to sign the so-called Abraham Accord normalising relations with Israel.

The deal was slammed as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause by much of the Arab world. The people of the countries who signed the controversial agreement have shown their support for Palestine despite the accord.

The Moroccan team celebrated their win that advanced them to round 16 of the FIFA World Cup after defeating Canada by hoisting the Palestinian flag. Similarly, Moroccan fans were seen carrying the Palestinian symbol in fan zones across Doha.

Qatar has long supported Palestinians while regularly condemning Israel’s crimes. 

Earlier this month, Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said that Palestine will remain present in Qatar’s “conscience” throughout the World Cup.

“We expect to celebrate [the World Cup] with thousands of our brothers and sisters from Palestine and we affirm here that their cause and our just cause in Palestine will always remain present in our conscience,” Al-Khater said while taking aim at crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.

Local initiatives that joined in standing with Palestine include the “Palestinian Dream” campaign that garnered major support even before the tournament kicked off.

Meanwhile, several restaurants and cafes in Qatar have expressed their staunch rejection of the the Israeli occupation, displaying signs on their entrances saying: “This place supports the boycott of apartheid Israel”. 

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