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May 23, 2013

Barca to visit Israel and Palestine

Barcelona's first-team players' pre-season schedule will include appearances at football clinics for children in both Israel and Palestine.

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According to the club the events will take place in the Palestinian Territories on August 3 and then in Israel the following day, and "first team players will be present at both".

Details of the initiative - called the FC Barcelona Peace Tour - were announced via the club's official website on Wednesday.

"FC Barcelona, with the full cooperation and support of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, will host two football clinics for peace next August," the club statement said. "One will be in Israel and the other in the West Bank and both will involve children from Israel and the Palestinian Territories."

The clinics are with the backing of leading figures on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, the club said.

"FC Barcelona wants to thank Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his personal commitment to this project, as well as President Shimon Peres and the President of the Palestine National Authority Mahmoud Abbas for their vision and leadership," it said. "The Peres Center for Peace, the Israeli Football Association and the Palestinian Football Association will all be involved in the events. The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority will provide all necessary assistance."

The visit by blaugrana players forms part of a wider move by the club to try and develop peace and democracy in the Middle East, and a better future for children all over the world.

"FC Barcelona has become a channel for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians," it said. "FC Barcelona is firm in its commitment to promote freedom and democracy. The club's long relationship with UNICEF puts children at the very centre of our initiatives. All proceeds of from the FC Barcelona Peace Tour will be donated to the promotion of peace between Israelis and Palestinians through the values of sport."