Qatar said flights are for World Cup fans and its stance on Israel remains unchanged as the two countries have no ties.
International football’s governing body, FIFA, said on November 10 that the special direct flights had been confirmed and Cyprus-based Tus Airways will operate them for the duration of the month-long tournament.
On Sunday, the head of Israel’s Directorate of Public Diplomacy, Lior Haiat, said at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv that “history has been made” with the “first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Doha”.
it is Cypriot Tus Airways 5b-ddl pic.twitter.com/tXpNpVCa6U
— avi scharf (@avischarf) November 20, 2022
FIFA claimed that “Palestinian cardholders and media” would be able to “travel on these charter flights without restrictions”. But it was not immediately clear to what extent Palestinian residents of the territories occupied by Israel West Bank or blocked Gaza strip would have access to the charter.
The arrangement would be subject “to Israel’s security requirements,” FIFA said.
Palestinian residents, both in the West Bank and Gaza, face major challenges when traveling abroad. Palestinians in the West Bank generally travel from Jordan, as access to Ben Gurion Airport is strictly restricted. Those in Gaza have no access to Israel or its airport, with very rare exceptions.
One of the passengers, Hadar Segal, 35, said the flight was a “special and historic thing”.
Israeli passport holders can usually only travel to Qatar with special visas issued for sports competitions or conferences. There are no existing direct flights between the two countries.
Qatar has emphasized its position on normalizing relations with Israel stays unchanged. It is linked to Palestinian statehood achieved through a two-state solution in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Its neighboring countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, established diplomatic relations with Israel under United States-brokered pacts in 2020.