Israel intends to bar entry to people known to be planning to disrupt next week’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv by protesting against the Jewish state, the Foreign Ministry said, according to a report published in The Guardian Tuesday.
Supporters of the BDS movement, a Palestinian-led campaign advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, have been calling on artists to pull out of this year’s contest because of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Activists have also been rumored to be planning to travel to Israel to disturb the event, and Iceland’s representatives have threatened to protest onstage.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told the British newspaper that Israel would only ban those who broke Israeli law, which includes a prohibition on support for boycotts of the Jewish state.
“This is going to be a huge party in which thousands of people will participate but we will remain extremely vigilant in order to make sure that no one comes here in order to disturb and destroy,” Nahshon said, according to The Guardian.
“We don’t want to prohibit the entry to the State of Israel for people. But on the other hand, if we know for certain that we will be facing people who are anti-Israel activists and whose sole purpose is to disturb the event, then we will use the legal instruments that we have regarding the entry to Israel,” he added, according to the British newspaper.
Singer Netta Barzilai’s win last year with the catchy pop anthem “Toy” earned Israel the honor of hosting the 2019 Eurovision competition. Thousands of tourists are expected to arrive in Tel Aviv for the campy, gay-friendly spectacle. The semifinals will be held on May 14 and 16, followed by the Grand Final on May 18.
However, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office is in charge of battling BDS, reacted to the report on Twitter, saying it was “another lie by The Guardian.”
In 2017, Israel passed a law allowing the state to bar entry to BDS supporters. Israel says it retains the right to bar entry to those who wish to harm the country, and that its border procedures are done out of security concerns.
Israel said last week that it had uncovered a BDS-backed network of bots and fake Twitter accounts urging a boycott of Eurovision in Tel Aviv.
Twitter confirmed it suspended “a small network of accounts” in response to the Israeli complaint.