After Warning From European Broadcasting Union, Netanyahu's Office to Pay for Some Eurovision Expenses

Prime Minister's Office announces transfer of additional 1.5 million shekels so preparations can resume after the production work was halted

Television presenter Assi Azar stands next to Lucy Ayoub as she shows the card of Israel during the Eurovision Semi-Final allocation draw, in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel January 28, 2019.
REUTERS/Corinna Kern

The Prime Minister’s Office announced Monday it would cover 1.5 million shekels (about $410,000) of the security costs for the Eurovision.

The announcement came after the song contest's executive supervisor sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a stern letter in which he warned him that Israel's foot-dragging on the matter could impede preparations for the entire event.

Jon Ola Sand sent the letter Monday on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union, warning Netanyahu against delays in preparing the security for the competition, which is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv in May. 

On Monday evening, Yoav Horowitz, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, responded that his office would cover the security costs instead of the Tourism Ministry, which refused to pay its share.

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The total security budget is 7.5 million shekels. Three million will come from the Prime Minister’s Office, 1.5 million from the Kan public broadcaster, 1.5 million from the Communications Ministry and 1.5 million from the Finance Ministry. Now that the issue has been resolved, police inspections of the equipment and materials will proceed, so work on installing the flooring for the competition will resume on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Kan said, “Eurovision in Israel is a national event with exposure to 200 million viewers. We welcome the resolution of this issue. Work on the Eurovision production is going ahead at full speed to make up for lost time so that everyone may enjoy a wonderful Israeli Eurovision.”

On Sunday, Kan CEO Eldad Koblenz sent an urgent letter to the Communications Ministry director-general, warning that any further delay in the police inspections would cost the public broadcaster half a million shekels every day.  

Koblenz also wrote that “the heads of the EBU were informed of the cessation of the work and find this situation to be of grave concern. They are worried that the Israeli government, contrary to its explicit commitment, is not taking responsibility for its share of the Eurovision security funding, and say the current halt in work means there is a real danger the production will not be able to meet the timetable for the event. They also say that this conduct by the Israeli government will only heighten the concerns already being expressed by the delegations regarding their security and the security of the Eurovision events in Israel.”