Member of Knesset Michael Oren, who also serves as a Deputy Minister in the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu, has said that Jerusalem does not have the facilities necessary to host Eurovision and that Tel Aviv is the most likely host city.
Mr Oren made the remarks in an interview with Television Malta (TVM) during an official visit to the island nation last week. He was there to discuss increasing trade and tourism between the countries, whose relationship is growing closer.
Referring to the problem of potentially hosting Eurovision in Jerusalem, whose status is disputed internationally and in diplomatic practice, Mr Oren said:
To the best of my knowledge, and this is constantly changing, Jerusalem doesn’t have the facilities necessary for Eurovision so it may have to be held in Tel Aviv anyway, which would solve the whole problem.
It’s an important announcement: Mr Oren is known to be close to PM Netanyahu and it is unlikely that he would make such a statement without grounds for it.
Curiously, Jerusalem is currently one of the two front-runners — along with Tel Aviv — as it does have the right facilities to host. The Jerusalem Arena, aka “Pais”, is a covered venue with sufficient seating, and the city boasts plenty of hotel rooms, as required by the EBU hosting rules.
Of course, there are some big problems with Jerusalem serving as host city. As we’ve reported previously, members of the Ultra Orthodox community have demanded that officials avoid rehearsals during Shabbat, which lasts from Friday evening until Saturday evening — a demand that would interfere with the grand final jury show.
Somehow Mr Oren didn’t mention these problems, perhaps to avoid admitting that the real issue is a political one — and not a matter of facilities. This may allow Tel Aviv to be perceived as a legitimate host city by the Israeli public, where the majority prefers Jerusalem to host.
Eurovision 2019: Host city security deposit
In the meantime, the thriller regarding Israel as a host country doesn’t stop for a moment.
Last week KAN — the public broadcaster — warned that Israel was at risk of losing the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest if it failed to pay a €12 million ($14 million) security deposit within five days.
On Sunday the Israeli finance ministry and KAN held a teleconference and a compromise is now being discussed. It was suggested that the state will provide a guarantee to KAN for the security required. KAN is considering this offer and we will update you as soon as we can regarding any developments.
Read more Israel Eurovision news