TEL AVIV – Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev on Thursday declared that if Israel can’t host the Eurovision song contest in Jerusalem next year, it should not host it at all.
Regev’s remarks came in response to reports that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest, requested that 2019’s Eurovision be held in a “non-divisive location.”
“I will recommend to the government that the Eurovision — if it can’t be in Jerusalem — we shouldn’t host it,” Regev told Israel Radio.
“It costs Israel NIS 50 million. It is designed to market the country. It’s a beautiful music show that brings every country here,” she said.
“I think personally that if the Eurovision won’t be in Jerusalem, it would be wrong to invest NIS 50m. of public funds. The State of Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and we should not be ashamed of it.”
On Sunday, Israeli media reported that the government decided it would not intervene in determining where the song contest would take place. On a joint phone call, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit made the decision to leave all negotiations up to the Kan public broadcaster, which is in charge of organizing the event.
Apart from Jerusalem, three other cities — Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat — have been put forward to host the Eurovision.
The EBU told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that no decision had been made on the host city, but added that it is important the local broadcaster “takes all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event throughout the organization of the competition.”
“No decisions have been made yet on the host city, venue and dates,” an EBU spokesman said, adding that all host countries are required to offer “a minimum of two host city and venue options” before any final decisions are made.
The host city will likely be announced “no earlier than July and no later than September.”
The EBU is looking for a city with at least 3,000 hotel rooms and a concert venue that can hold at least 10,000 people, Ynet reported.
“Our goal is that countries do not boycott the venue,” EBU officials said.
Regev was not included in the call between Netanyahu and other government officials.
Last month, Regev insisted that a heavily promoted friendly soccer match between Israel and Argentina be moved to Jerusalem from Haifa. Argentinean players received death threats from supporters of the Palestinians warning them not to play in the contested capital and the game was ultimately cancelled.
Israel won the 2018 Eurovision contest on May 19 with the song “Toy” by Netta Barzilai.