The EBU has sent a formal letter to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting that politicians avoid interfering with the production of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Israel next May. The EBU has also asked that Israeli authorities not prevent or otherwise restrict visitors from entering Israel due to their political views, beliefs and sexual orientation. They’ve made it clear that rehearsals must take place on Saturday, which is the holy day for the religious community in Israel.
As we reported last week, EBU Executive and Supervisor Jon Ola Sand laid down the law during an interview with KAN last Thursday. He said that Shabbat cannot interfere with the host city’s hosting duties. Hosting Eurovision without working on Saturday is impossible.
The news about the letter, which was published in YNET, has caused a massive debate on Israeli social media. Whilst some commentators claim the letter is only a formality and point out that Ukraine received a similar letter before hosting Eurovision in Kyiv last year, others think that it suggests that Jerusalem is the preferred host city due to its larger venue and that this is why the letter expressly addressed the Shabbat issue. This is despite Sand’s recent statements that were interpreted by the Israeli media as favouring Tel Aviv as host city.
In the meantime, Miri Regev, who has tirelessly argued on behalf of Jerusalem, said today that although she still thinks that Jerusalem should become host city, Tel Aviv may win this right eventually. She added that in any case she is confident that Israel will host Eurovision successfully. Her comments were made during the annual Israeli senior executive committee.
The decision regarding the host city will be made within the next few days and bring an end to the seemingly endless speculation.
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