Either Israel Hosts Eurovision in Jerusalem or Not at All, Minister Threatens

Miri Regev, still facing backlash for her role in the Argentina-Israel soccer fiasco, says Israel has the right to decide where the contest will be held next year

A large crowd celebrating Israel's Netta Barzilai's triumph in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest with her song "Toy" in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on May 13, 2018.

Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said on Thursday that if the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is not held in Jerusalem, it should not take place in Israel at all. 

Regev's comments come amid growing fears that the song contest may suffer the same fate as the highly-anticipated Argentina-Israel soccer match, which was canceled following Palestinian pressure. 

Regev, who is still facing accusations that she politicized the soccer match, said that Israel has every right to decide where the Eurovision contest should take place. 

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"With all due respect to the Union, Israel has the right to decide where to host Eurovision," said Regev, "it is a beautiful show and there are no issues with the substance, but the point is also that the state shows itself on the occasion," she added.

"The final decision will be taken by the prime minister, but if they ask me, I'll say the right thing to do is either host it in Jerusalem or spend the 50 million shekels necessary in some other way," Regev concluded.

Israel's victory with singer Netta Barzilai in this year's Portugal edition granted it the right to host the next event in its capital.

A Haaretz report on Wednesday revealed that European Broadcasting Union officials are uneasy about holding the Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem next year, voicing concerns that Mideast politics could harm the competition and tarnish its brand.

Reacting with a tweet, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara tried to shun any controversy by saying that the government has no intention to politicize Eurovision and will comply with all the guidelines set by the European Broadcasting Union.