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Fifa Arab Cup: Algerian team raise Palestinian flag after beating Morocco

The gesture of solidarity with Palestine comes as Rabat develops ties with Israel unlike Algeria, which has opposed last year's normalisation deals
Algeria's Mohamed Tougai celebrates after scoring the winning penalty against Morocco, Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar, 11 December 2021 (Reuters)

The Algerian national team raised Palestinian flags on Saturday after securing a place in the semi-finals of the Fifa Arab Cup in Qatar. 

The gesture of solidarity with Palestine came after Algeria edged out Morocco on penalties (5-3). 

Algeria will face host Qatar in the semi-finals, scheduled to be held on 15 December. 

Gestures of solidarity with Palestine are common in Arab sports competitions.

Algeria's team celebrates win over Morocco on Saturday 11 December 2021 (Reuters)

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But the Algerian gesture this time held special significance in the context of the latest stance the country has taken in opposition to Morocco’s normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel, a deal decried by the Palestinians as an act of "betrayal" of their struggle against Israeli occupation.  

Algeria has long been one of the most outspoken countries in North Africa in support of Palestinians, and news that Morocco had formalised diplomatic relations with Israel sparked anger from Algerian officials and citizens alike.

Algeria players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot out against Morocco, Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar, 11 December 2021 (Reuters)

Relations between the two North African neighbours have been strained in recent years over a range of predominantly territorial disputes, with Algeria announcing in August that it was officially severing ties with Morocco. 

Rabat's re-establishment of ties with Israel late last year - as part of then-US President Donald Trump's push for normalisation in the region - was accompanied by US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara, reigniting tensions with Algiers.

Morocco claims full sovereignty over the territory, while Algeria backs the Polisario Front's demands for a referendum on self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations.

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