European Broadcast Union fumes at Netanyahu over Eurovision security costs
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European Broadcast Union fumes at Netanyahu over Eurovision security costs

Song contest supervisor sends letter to PM demanding he keep his word and provide state funding to secure event

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

View of the building at the Expo Tel Aviv fairgrounds where the 2019 Eurovision song contest will be held, seen on September 13, 2018. (Flash90)
View of the building at the Expo Tel Aviv fairgrounds where the 2019 Eurovision song contest will be held, seen on September 13, 2018. (Flash90)

The European Broadcast Union has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure that the government covers the costs of security arrangements for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, and accused him of going back on his word after previously agreeing to fund security for the event.

Song contest supervisor Jon Ola Sand sent a letter Tuesday to Netanyahu as well as to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Channel 12 news reported.

Sand was prompted to intervene after Israel’s national broadcasting agency, Kan, recently told the EBU that the government was refusing to budget security for the contest. He claimed that during a meeting in October with Netanyahu in Israel, the prime minister had assured him that the state would cover the security costs.

In the letter Sand wrote that placing the burden of paying for security arrangements on Kan would “contravene our meeting, during which it was made clear that all of the security aspects are the responsibility of the state and not the broadcast body,” according to a Hebrew translation of the letter aired by Channel 12.

The Israeli government “cannot shirk its responsibility,” he wrote and urged Netanyahu to make sure the government takes full charge of security arrangements for the event, scheduled for May 14-18 in Tel Aviv.

Sand noted that with the event drawing closer, the EBU has received many questions from participating countries about security arrangements and suggested that a commitment by the government to fund and handle security will “greatly sooth the countries sending delegations to Israel.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a response to Channel 12, “The Israel Police is currently carrying out thorough work to formulate the security needs and costs required for arranging the Eurovision events in Israel. When the work is completed, the subject will be examined and budget sources will be summarized.”

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12, 2018, when Netta Barzilai snagged first place with the women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”

Barzilai’s win meant Israel will host this year’s Eurovision competition. Over 40 countries are expected to participate, bringing many thousands of fans.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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