Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday thanked Argentina’s national soccer team for cancelling its friendly match with the Israeli national team, which had been scheduled for this coming Saturday in Jerusalem.
Abbas’ comments, quoted by the PA’s official Wafa news agency, came during a meeting with the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, at his headquarters in Ramallah.
"We highly appreciate the outstanding efforts made by the Palestinian Football Association to prevent Israel to bypass international resolutions, especially regarding the occupied city of Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal state of Palestine," said Abbas.
"We reaffirm that any measures that harm the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine will not be accepted," he said. "We thank the Argentine Football Association and express our appreciation for the great efforts of the Palestinian Association."
The Israeli embassy in Argentina officially announced on Tuesday night that the friendly match had been cancelled, citing threats against Argentine star Lionel Messi as the reason for the cancellation.
"The threats and provocations against Lionel Messi, which logically raised fears against holding the game, are not foreign to the daily lives of the Israeli population, whose athletes have often been the target of violence and terror attacks," the embassy said in a series of tweets.
Rajoub welcomed the cancellation of the friendly game, saying, “Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game.”
Rajoub has in the past led efforts to force soccer governing body FIFA to ban six Israeli teams based in Judea and Samaria. More recently, he urged fans to burn pictures of Messi and replicas of his shirt if he played in the game against Israel.
Israel's soccer association announced on Wednesday it will file a complaint to FIFA over Rajoub’s pressuring of Argentinian players and staff into cancelling the game.