Former MK Azmi Bishara, who escaped Israel after being suspected of spying for the Hezbollah terror group during the Second Lebanon War, is acting in Qatar in an attempt to prevent Israelis from attending the World Cup later this year, Israel Hayom reported.
Bishara, founder of the Arab "Balad" party, left Israel in 2007 and settled in Qatar. He has received protection from the local government and become an adviser to Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Qatar also funds the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, which Bishara founded and heads, and has provided him with a diplomatic passport.
Recently, Bishara has been exerting enormous pressure in an attempt to prevent Israelis from attending the World Cup: It is estimated that between 15,000-30,000 Israelis will attend the games in Qatar this November and December, but the details of their arrival have not yet been finalized.
Israel and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations.
According to Israel Hayom, this week an Israeli source estimated that the issues with Qatar will be solved, since Qatar promised FIFA that citizens of all countries would be allowed to visit during the games. Still, he admitted, "This is a serious challenge, behind which stand forces with great power and interest."
Bishara is not the only person who is hostile to Israel and yet finds refuge in Qatar: Top Hamas officials also operate in Qatar, unhindered and unfettered, with the encouragement of the Qatari government.