Less than a week before the start of the World Cup, no direct flights have been scheduled between Israel and Qatar, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Last Thursday, the two countries and FIFA announced an agreement that allows direct charter flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Doha.
“We made the platform, but we are not the ones who are providing direct flights,” explains Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon. “We are waiting for private companies.”
He adds that he is not aware of any Palestinians who have asked to fly from Ben Gurion to Qatar for the games, though the agreement allows Palestinians to use the charter flights, should they ever depart.
A team of six Israeli diplomats will be in Qatar for the entire tournament, even though the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
Nachshon called this diplomatic presence, to which Qatar agreed last week, “important and meaningful.”
The Israeli officials will enter Qatar with diplomatic passports and will be met by a Qatari official.
Israel will not fly its national flag and is not defining the presence as an office or diplomatic representation, but as a “team.”
They will work out of a private travel agency, with details of how exactly that will be set up still needing to be worked out by the advance team, which takes off tomorrow.
Israel will publicize a number that all citizens in Qatar can dial if they find themselves in trouble. There will also be a rotating spokesperson presence there throughout the World Cup.
The Foreign Ministry is expecting 10,000-20,000 Israelis to make the trip, but doesn’t have exact numbers because many are arriving with foreign passports.
“We are ready to give attention to and aid a very large number of travelers, and are prepared to deal with a large range of incidents, from lost passports to different types of friction with local authorities,” says Nachshon.