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Israel blames Palestinians for cancellation of Argentina friendly

07 June, 2018, 09:02 | Author: Christina Hansen
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Argentina's decision to withdraw from a football match against Israel was celebrated across Palestine on Wednesday as a victory against the use of sporting events to gloss over "war crimes".

That Argentina was prepared to cancel one of its precious warm-up matches days ahead of the World Cup illustrates the awkwardness of the situation Israel had placed them in.

"This was all part of the Israeli apartheid regime's sports-washing policy to use global sporting events to cover up its war crimes and egregious human rights violations against Palestinians".

Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, considered close to Netanyahu, expressed ire at Argentina with its front-page headline: "They surrendered to terrorism: The game against Argentina has been cancelled".

Regev had insisted on moving the game to contested Jerusalem and was orchestrating a politicised audience with Barcelona superstar Messi.

Some waved tops of the Argentina's national team stained with fake blood.

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Although Israeli officials-both the government and the football federation- are yet to react to news of the cancellation, there are reports in the Israeli press that say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentina's president Mauricio Macri to ask him to "intervene" and "persuade" the Argentinian national squad not to cancel their visit to Jerusalem. But his efforts were unsuccessful.

Regev rejected the backlash saying "there is no bigger lie" than the allegations her decision to move the match to Jerusalem aided in its cancellation.

"It's unfortunate the [football] knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel", said defense minister Avigdor Lieberman.

After the game was officially cancelled, the Israel Football Association said that they would take action against the PA in worldwide forums after the "brutal and physical threats against the Argentine team". He had called on Arabs to burn Lionel Messi pictures and Messi T-shirts if he played the match. He has long tried to get soccer's world governing body, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel.

Rajoub believes Israel should be punished for restricting movement of Palestinian players, and for forming teams in Jewish West Bank settlements.

The World Cup warm-up match was meant to be played on Saturday in the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem after Israel relocated the event from the national stadium in Haifa.

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Palestinians opposed the sold-out game, who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

Amid celebrations in Gaza and Ramallah, the Palestinian football federation issued a statement thanking Messi and his teammates for calling off Saturday's game.

The United States shifted its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel, in a move met with condemnation from the Palestinians.

"Instead of taking responsibility for the bad failure, we heard from Minister Regev lies and fury about everyone else", Yacimovich said.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev suggested Argentine players received personal threats against themselves and their families from terror groups, which is quite likely, and we may find out more about it some day. She said the groups sent them images of dead children, but gave no further evidence.

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