MESSIBARCAWEB

Shimon Peres meets Lionel Messi during Barcelona’s training session in Tel Aviv

Israel’s Education Ministry has said they won’t fund Barcelona’s recent Peace Tour to Israel after organisers refused to play the Hatikva during one of the training sessions at the Bloomfield Stadium.

The ministry were asked to partly fund the event and Education Minister Shai Piron agreed to under the condition that the Israeli national anthem would be played. But while the Palestinian anthem was played at the Palestinian stadium, the Hatikva was omitted when Barcelona’s players gave their training session in Tel Aviv.

A senior source at the President’s Residence revealed: “There was a meeting held [beforehand] which was attended by dozens of representatives from the different ministries, they were informed that if the Israeli anthem would be played, the Spanish, Catalan and Palestinian anthems would have to be played too.

“In conversations with the production, with the team and with the Foreign Ministry, we were told it would create an unpleasant situation, claiming that the need to play four anthems would have prolonged the ceremonies.

Senior Education Ministry officials were outraged by the decision, and demanded that Piron refused to transfer the payment. An official told Yedioth Ahronoth: “If someone’s feelings are hurt by hearing the Israeli anthem, he should not come to Israel at all. This is a case of first-class chutzpah, coming to the heart of Tel Aviv and then demanding that we don’t play our anthem.

“It’s an even greater chutzpah on the part of the organizers and the staff of the Peres Center, who gave in and agreed to it. It’s a scandal which would not be ignored in any normal country.”