Like yesterday in Bethlehem, Barça’s tip to Jerusalem on Sunday has all been about the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The touring party visited the residence of the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, where Sandro Rosell, accompanied by members of his board, was once again granted the kind of treatment usually afforded to heads of state. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was also in attendance
Both Peres and Netanyahu were hugely grateful to Barça for this visit, and praised the club for its commitment to social and charity issues. The meeting, broadcast live on television, was all about building bridges towards dialogue, and ended with the first team players posing for a picture with the three main protagonists.
Shimon Peres: “You are messengers of peace”
Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, started his speech by saying that Barça’s visit “is a dream come true for the children of Israel and Palestine … It is a contribution to peace. You have come at the right time.” He was alluding to the peace negotiations that have just started in Washington: “The success of these talks is essential for our future” he solemnly said, before adding that: You have achieved a very high level of football. But more than that, you have sent a message of solidarity, friendship, and of caring for the weak. You are messengers of peace. Millions of people love you and you offer your love to them. Thank you very much.”
He also remembered Tito Vilanova: “In Jerusalem, we are praying for him, and wish him a speedy recovery” he said, while also revealing that he is very up to date with events at Barça: “I always watch you” he said, while jokingly adding that the best way to win peace would be to have “Messi, Iniesta and Xavi on the pitch.”
Common points between Israel and Palestine
Sandro Rosell commented that Barça’s trip “is just a drop in the ocean. But it’s a very important drop.” Like in Bethlehem, the Barça president mentioned how pleased everyone at the club is to see that peace negotiations are back under way, adding that “on this visit we have been able to see that both in Israel and Palestine, most children support Barça … We fight to win titles, but we also want to be your friends forever.”