By David Hellerman
Although Israel and Qatar do not have diplomatic ties, officials from both countries are exploring the possibility of direct flights for Israeli soccer fans, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.
This is the first year the tournament is being hosted by an Arab country. Qatar has already confirmed that Israelis are welcome to attend the World Cup, which runs November 21-December 18.
An estimated 15,000 Israelis are expected to attend.
Direct flights between Ben Gurion International Airport and Doha’s Hamad International Airport would take approximately three hours.
Absent direct flights, Israelis would face potentially lengthy layovers in Jordan, Turkey, Ethiopia, Muscat or the United Arab Emirates.
Until now, Israeli nationals arriving on foreign passports are allowed into Qatar. The report added that isn’t clear if traveling on an Israeli passport will require a visa.
Israel Hayom noted that the bigger concern to be ironed out are security arrangements for Israeli visitors. The National Security Council’s website currently advises Israelis against unnecessarily traveling to the Gulf state.
Security officials told the paper they are confident that adequate security arrangements can be agreed upon, stressing that the threats are no different for Israeli flights to the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.
The report added that a plan will be presented to Qatari leaders in the coming days. It’s believed the Qataris will be open to the plan in order to boost tourism.