Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Monroe Room of the State Department in Washington September 2, 2010..
(photo credit: REUTERS/JASON REED)
Are Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the cusp of some soccer diplomacy?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing an invitation issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the World Cup final in Moscow on July 15, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed on Monday.
“This is a possibility,” the sources said, although no final decision has been made.
If he does attend, he will be in the stands with other international leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA news agency Wafa quoted Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, as saying that Abbas was invited by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and intends to attend. Rajoub said that while he is in Moscow, Abbas will meet with Putin.
The Russian president, who last invited Netanyahu to Moscow to stand alongside him at the annual Victory Day Parade marking the victory over Nazi Germany, has been trying since 2008 to host a summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Abbas and Netanyahu shook hands briefly at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 during a joint photo with other leaders there, but have not had a substantive meeting since 2010.
Even if both men are in the same city at the same time, it does not mean that they will meet. In 2013 they were both in Beijing on the same day, but did not encounter one another. They have also simultaneously have been at the UN General Assembly in New York City, but did not meet.