Iraq to play their first football match in Israeli-occupied West Bank against Palestinian national squad

The Iraqi side will face off against Palestine in a first for the Arab side, with most Muslim-majority countries choosing to not visit the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel.

Agence France-Presse July 31, 2018 10:07:17 IST
Iraq to play their first football match in Israeli-occupied West Bank against Palestinian national squad

Baghdad: Iraq's national football team is set to make its first-ever visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Thursday, where it will face off against the Palestinian national squad, a team official said on Monday.

Iraq to play their first football match in Israelioccupied West Bank against Palestinian national squad

Representational image. Reuters

Iraq fought in wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and has still technically yet to make peace with the Jewish state. Most teams in Arab countries — many of which do not recognise Israel — refuse to visit the Palestinian territories because Israel control's the West Bank's borders and blockades the Gaza Strip.

But Palestinian leaders have for years called on Arab countries to send sporting and cultural delegations to help ease their isolation. The friendly match with Iraq will be held on Saturday in Ramallah, the West Bank's administrative centre.

"A Palestinian delegation will wait for the Iraqi team in Amman and escort it to Ramallah," Iraqi team official Basil Gorgis told AFP. The Palestinian team, a FIFA member since 1998, squared off in May against the Iraqi squad in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

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