Israelis voted Monday night for 25-year-old singer Imri Ziv as their representative at the Eurovision song contest, choosing him from a selection of four hopefuls during a nationally televised competition.
Ziv beat out three other contestants on the reality television show “A Next Star” (“Kochav Haba”) with his rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Because Of You,” having also sung “Halo” by Beyoncé earlier in the evening.
The singer has experience at Eurovision, having been a backing singer for the Israeli entrants Nadav Guedj in 2015 and Hovi Star last year in Stockholm.
“I’m excited to go to Eurovision for the third time, this time in front of the stage,” he said according to the Ynet news website after being crowned the winner. “Thanks for making my biggest dream come true.”
He also vowed to do his best to win the competition, to be held May 9-13 in Kiev, Ukraine, home of last year’s winner. “I am very happy and promise to do my best to bring Eurovision to Israel next year,” he said. The winning country hosts the following year.
Ziv competed in the first season of talent show “The Voice” in 2012, reaching the battle round. Along with others, he sang in a promotional video for the IDF in 2012.
Shortly before the final, Ziv, from the coastal city of Hod Hasharon posted a photo of himself and his dancers on Instagram.
A day earlier Ziv shared a video on Facebook in which he thanked his fans for the most amazing two months of his life. Filming himself while walking his dog, he called on everyone to vote for him in the final, promising that he would do his utmost to be the best possible representative for Israel at the Eurovision.
Israel first appeared in the Eurovision in 1973 and this is the country’s 40th time in the finals. Israel won the competition in 1978 and 1979, as well as in 1998, when transgender singer Dana International beat the competition with “Diva.”
The Israeli team has not yet decided which song Ziv will perform in the final.