Argentina is one of the most popular national teams among Israelis. Jerusalem was invaded and occupied in 1967 by Israel, which wants all of the city as its capital. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
US President Donald Trump's recent transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked protests in the Gaza Strip in which dozens of Palestinians were killed. The match was hotly opposed by Palestinians, and a pro-Palestinian group protested outside of the Barcelona practice facility earlier this week. He continued: "The last 72 hours led us to make the decision not to travel", emphasizing that his main responsibility was to watch out for the health and safety of the players. Regev claimed that "terrorist" groups had made threats against Argentina's players and their families.
But Palestinians said that the decision was a moral victory. "It's not BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement]". It said the Argentinian team responded to "creative campaigning" denouncing what it called Israel's "sports-washing of its crimes against Palestinians".
"I think Messi and the rest of the Argentine team players respected their principles, and I thank them".
"It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel", said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Rajoub had accused Israel of playing politics with the game, by moving it from its original location in Haifa to Jerusalem, and by trying to link it to celebrations surrounding Israel's 70th anniversary.
"From that moment on Palestinians launched an intense effort to prevent the game from taking place". He had called on Arabs to burn Lionel Messi pictures and Messi T-shirts if he played the match.
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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".
"We welcome news that [Argentina's] "friendly" football match with Israel has been canceled!"
The Israel Football Association, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday it will file a complaint to Fifa accusing its Palestinian counterpart of pressuring Argentinian players and staff into cancelling a friendly match.
"It's nothing against the Israeli community, the Jewish community and I would like everyone to take this decision as a contribution to world peace", he said.
The Israeli news site Ynet reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Argentine president Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene.
Late Wednesday, Israel's Sports Ministry said that a "negotiation" about the match was underway, but gave no other details.
Yitzhak Herzog, a Labor Party member of the Knesset and leader of the opposition, called Regev's move "a spectacular own goal", while Avi Gabbay, head of the same party, called for an investigation on Regev over corruption allegations.