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Argentina friendly called off after Palestinian 'threats, provocations'
June 23 2018, 04:47 | Van Peters
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In an interview with the ESPN sports channel, Argentinean striker Gonzalo Higuain confirmed the cancellation, saying, "They've finally done the right thing".
The match in Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium was to be Argentina's final game before they kick off their World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16 in Russian Federation.
In a letter to the Argentinian Football Association President Claudio Tapia, Jibril Rajoub said Palestinians did not want to see the game played in Jerusalem and said that Israel was using the event as a "political tool".
In addition, a PLO spokesperson told Middle East Eye that the match has been cancelled.
Argentinian media said the decision came after pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated in Buenos Aires and Barcelona against the pre- World Cup match being played in the city.
"He led the Argentine national team to the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and brought them victory at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2005".
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The fixture between the two teams was set to be played in Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium on June 9, which is built on land that was once a Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948.
The embassy opened on May 14, fanning Palestinian anger and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with Israeli forces killing at least 61 Gazans that day.
As part of the campaign, Mohammed Khalil, a Palestinian footballer, directed a message toward Argentina's beloved forward Lionel Messi.
Although the stadium that was slated to host the match is in west Jerusalem, Rajoub had complained that it is situated in a neighborhood built on the site of a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war surrounding Israel's independence 70 years ago. "The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem", Rajoub said.
"Messi is a symbol of peace and love", he said in a statement ahead of the game. "We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation", he added. Holding the match, he said in a letter to the Argentinian ambassador to Israel, "sends a unsafe message to the Israeli government that the world is ignoring its gross violations of human rights".
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the U.S. embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.