TEL AVIV – Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest dispelled rumors that next year’s competition would not take place in Israel as “speculation only,” JTA reported.
In an email to the news wire, organizers said they are in the process of finalizing the event with Israeli officials.
They did not comment on the reason behind a cryptic post on social media in which they warned fans of the contest to hold off booking flights for next year’s competition set to take place in Jerusalem.
“Are you already looking forward to next year’s #Eurovision? Us too! But don’t go booking your flights just yet, for official updates on where and when it’ll take place, keep an eye out for announcements on our official channels,” the post on the contest’s official Facebook page said on Tuesday.
In their email to JTA, the organizers said, “No decision on the location or dates for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 have been taken. Work has begun on agreeing the specific logistics for hosting the competition, including where and when it will take place. The final decision will be taken by the host broadcaster in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union and its members.”
“We have no more to say on the matter at this time,” the email concluded.
Last week, a senior source at Israel’s public broadcaster Kan told the Haaretz newspaper that the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the song contest, was “very unhappy” with remarks made by Israeli ministers who both demanded their ministries be in charge of overseeing next year’s competition in Jerusalem.
Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, both from the ruling Likud party, made comments that were unauthorized by the competition organizers. As reported in Breitbart Jerusalem, Kara invited several Arab states to take part in next year’s contest in Jerusalem.
“We will invite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and also Tunisia to take part in the Eurovision contest. Why not? If they just request it,” Kara said.
Eurovision’s rules stipulate that participating countries must be members of the European Broadcasting Union, which are co-sponsors of the event, and most of the countries Kara invited to participate are not.
Israel was the host of the Eurovision Song Contest twice in the past, in 1979 and 1999.
Of the dozens of countries participating in Eurovision, several have bloody territorial disputes and alleged occupation, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, Russia and Ukraine and Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, JTA noted.