Palestinians hail Messi for calling off Jerusalem match

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"We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub)", he said, accusing them of "threatening football players (against) coming to Israel".

"This match has become a political tool", he said. The team responded to creative campaigning from fans around the world denouncing Israel's sports-washing of its crimes against Palestinians. "No one hurt Jerusalem's honor and status as much as she did".

"My responsibility as president of the Argentina Football Association is to look after the health, physical integrity and security of our delegation".

"The decision to cancel the game stems from one reason only: threats by terror elements sent to (Lionel) Messi and his family and other players on the team", Miri Regev said. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted the Argentinian team through its branch in the South American country. "Playing with an apartheid state is a form of complicity, magnified by Israel's recent horrific massacre in Gaza against unarmed protesters demanding their basic freedom, dignity, and UN-stipulated refugee right of return".

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat gave thanks to "Argentina and its courageous people as well as its distinguished football team for choosing to abide by the principles of global law".

"The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem". "I don't think that the people who run world soccer can ignore this", he said. As Haaretz reports, it "was originally slated to be played in Haifa but Israeli authorities contributed funding for it to be moved to Jerusalem, irking Palestinians further following U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of the city as Israel's capital".

"From that moment on Palestinians launched an intense effort to prevent the game from taking place".

At the entrance to the news conference was a placard saying "From Palestine, thank you Messi" under a big photo of Rajoub posing with Barcelona's star player.

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Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization secretary, thanked Argentina for "choosing to abide by the principles of worldwide law and for refusing to yield to any form of bullying, intimidation and extortion".

The Palestinian Football Association - which had called on Argentina to pull out of the game - said in a statement that the friendly had been called off.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, but to no avail, on Tuesday.

Many Palestinians took to social media, initially to protest against the match and then to thank Argentina for its decision to withdraw.

The friendly soccer match between Argentina's and Israel's national soccer teams scheduled in Jerusalem was cancelled, after Argentine players received greater threats than those previously made by ISIS, the Argentine Foreign Minister said during an interview with Radio Mitre, La Agencia Judia de Noticias reported Wednesday (Spanish link).

"We also apologise to those that were going to take part in an event done for peace", Tapia added.

Abdel Wahed went on to say that the match was part of the celebrations of Israel's 70th anniversary since its establishment in 1948, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their villages and lands by Zionist paramilitaries.