Barcelona on Saturday kicked off its two-day “Peace Tour” of the Middle East with a soccer clinic for local Palestinian children.
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The Spanish arrived in Israel on Saturday afternoon, hours after playing an exhibition game the night before at home against the Brazilian club Santos.
Lionel Messi and newly signed Neymar are among the players who touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The team headed to Bethlehem, where they visited Jesus’ traditional birthplace and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At the Dura Stadium near Hebron in the West Bank, the team held workshops and a series of mini-games with dozens of Palestinian children.
On Sunday evening, up to 12,000 children are expected to attend a similar event at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, including children who regularly attend activities organized by The Peres Center for Peace. The team will also meet with Israeli leaders.
The team says the trip is aimed at strengthening institutional ties with the two communities and build bridges of dialogue for peace.
The visit comes shortly after Israelis and Palestinians resumed long dormant peace talks.