According to Jibril Rajoub, the president of the Palestinian Football Association, Morocco’s support for the Palestinians during the Atlas Lions’ historic FIFA World Cup run demonstrates that the cause has not been “buried.”
Morocco has established full diplomatic relations with Israel, much like numerous other Arab countries, but this hasn’t stopped its participants from expressing their allegiance to one side or the other in the long-running war.
After their dramatic upset victory against Spain on December 6 and their victories over Canada in the group stage, they raised the Palestinian flag on the field.
Throughout the competition, Moroccan athletes have posted on social media in favor of the Palestinian people.
Like much of the Middle East, Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Gaza, and annexation of east Jerusalem have hailed Morocco, the first Arab country to advance to the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Saeed al-Ramahi, the proprietor of a sporting goods business in Ramallah, stated that interest in the Moroccan squad appeared to be unquenchable since all of their jerseys were sold out.
“If I had 300,000 shirts, I would have sold them all in the last two days,” he told AFP.
Despite this, Morocco joined Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel in 2020 in establishing full diplomatic connections as a result of agreements mediated by Donald Trump, who was the president of the United States at the time.
According to Rajoub, the leading football official for Palestine, this demonstrates the ongoing support for the Palestinian cause, independent of any decisions taken by Arab leaders.
According to Rajoub, who serves as the secretary general of the Fatah organization, led by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, “the World Cup exposes the myth that the Palestinian cause has been buried by the recent normalization deals.”
The normalization agreements were denounced by Palestinians as “a stab in the back” and a violation of the Arab League’s long-standing stance against recognizing Israel unless it consents to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
However, the accords gave Arab governments diplomatic advantages.
In the case of Morocco, this entailed the Trump administration rejecting the long-standing demand of the international community for a vote to determine the status of the disputed area of Western Sahara and recognizing Rabat’s sovereignty over it.
Rajoub called the World Cup, particularly the Moroccan gestures and the other displays of Palestinian support around Qatar, “a smack in the face to the notion of normalization.”
In a survey issued on Tuesday, the top Palestinian public opinion research organization said that “the World Cup in Qatar helps rebuild Palestinian popular faith in the Arab world after years of disappointment.”
According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, “the great majority of the Palestinians feel they have now restored much or part of the lost faith in the Arab peoples in light of the solidarity with Palestine displayed by the fans during the football games.”
Rajoub referred to the Palestinians as the “33rd squad” to qualify for the competition in Qatar.
The World Cup has confirmed the significance of the Palestinian struggle “on the international scene,” according to Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Gaza’s rulers, the organization Hamas, which enjoys substantial support from Qatar.
Thousands of Jews of Moroccan heritage reside in Israel, and some of them have praised their team for their outstanding performance in advance of their semi-final encounter against France on Wednesday.
Leading Israeli media outlets have acknowledged that the World Cup has demonstrated clearly where Arab sympathies lay despite predictions of a different Middle East as a result of the normalization agreements.
The Maariv daily commented on Sunday that “the Moroccan festivities at the World Cup have demonstrated that the Arab world is far from normalization with Israel.”
The statement said, “As Israeli spectators, we will watch until the last whistle while experiencing the sad truth that the Arab supporters have put before our eyes.”
The left-leaning Haaretz newspaper concurred, writing that “Palestine is the real victor of the World Cup on social media.”