Turkish PM: Israel’s Eurovision Win Was Rigged by ‘Imperialists’

ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 14: Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim meets media representatives at Cankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey on July 14, 2017. (Photo by Utku Ucrak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Utku Ucrak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

TEL AVIV – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday claimed Israel’s win at the 2018 Eurovision contest was rigged by “imperialists” and “Israel knows only how to kill, not how to sing.”

During an interview with a Turkish television station, Yildirim said Netta Barzilai’s winning song “Toy” was “not good,” the Times of Israel reported.

Yildirim further accused the voting system of being rigged in order to make sure next year’s competition would take place in Jerusalem with the goal of “sow[ing] strife between religions” in the region.

“They let Israel win, even though they did not have enough points, so they could host the competition next year,” he said.

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Yildirim’s claims were “unworthy of a response,” but noted first that Israel has won Eurovision four times “with wonderful songs.”

Yildirim added that the “Israeli singer was not good. She can’t sing.”

Turkey has not been a part of the contest for the past five years.

Last week, Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev 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.”

Israeli media reported that the government decided it would not intervene in determining which city would serve as the venue for the song contest. 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.

However, the EBU told the Jerusalem Post 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 would likely to be announced “no earlier than July and no later than September.”

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