Netanyahu Says Eurovision Doesn't Have to Be in Jerusalem

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Netta Barzilai from Israel after winning the Eurovision Song Contest grand final in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018.
Netta Barzilai winning the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.Credit: Armando Franca/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials have agreed that Israel should not interfere in choosing the host city of the Eurovision Song Contest next year, according to a report on Channel 20.

The high-profile event is due to be held in Israel after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won this year’s competition in Lisbon, Portugal.

The report said Netanyahu had spoken during a conference call on Friday with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, and their decision had been conveyed to Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev. Regev had recently said that in her view, if the contest would not be hosted in Jerusalem, it would be better not to hold it in Israel at all.

Regev’s office issued the following statement, according to the TV report: “Minister Regev was briefed on this conversation. The prime minister also discussed the subject of the Eurovision [competition] with Minister Regev and the subject is also likely to be discussed in the future.”

Eurovision, which attracts a huge international television audience, is organized by the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU will be organizing next year’s event in coordination with Israel’s Kan public broadcasting corporation.

The EBU said it has no objection to Jerusalem as a venue for the event, as long as its organization the result of an orderly bidding process. As reported by Haaretz, however, senior officials at the European company told their counterparts at Kan that they were disturbed by the politicization of the production of the event, after members of the Israeli cabinet insisted that it only take place in Jerusalem.

For his part, Communications Minister Kara said he would not take part in any political move to interfere in the choice of venue, so as to ensure that it will take place in Israel.

Kan representatives are expected to meet with EBU officials next week where the proposals of four Israeli cities that have sought to host it – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat and Jerusalem – will be presented.

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