Palestinians Reject Barcelona's Proposal to Team With Israel for Peace Match

Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub tells Barcelona President Sandro Rosell there are 'lots of obstacles.'

Palestinians won’t be teaming up with Israelis in a soccer match against Barcelona designed to promote peace.

Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub met with Barcelona President Sandro Rosell on Friday and said there are “lots of obstacles.”

Rajoub, however, did call it “a good idea, a dream to become true if the occupation ends.”

Rosell, who has been touring the region trying to set up the match, made the proposal Thursday with President Shimon Peres. Rosell said Barcelona aims “to strengthen the bridges of peace and dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians
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“We want to make our team, our players, available to take part in a football match, with the hope that this game will serve to extend the channels of dialogue within the two communities that will help bring them closer together,” Rosell told Peres.

Peres said soccer “brings down barriers.”

“Together with you and with the President of the Palestinian Authority, we will work to stage a special match which hopefully won’t be one-off occasion but part of an ongoing cooperation between our children and other people as well,” Peres said.

Gazans were angered last year when Barcelona hosted freed Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit during the Clasico against Real Madrid. Shalit was held captive for five years by Hamas. Palestinian leaders have also attended Barcelona games in Spain.

The friendly match between Barcelona and a joint Israeli-Palestinian team had been set for July 31. Barcelona last promoted Middle East peace back in 2005, when it hosted a joint Israeli-Palestinian team at its iconic Nou Camp stadium.

Reuters