Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem next year is in doubt due to threats of boycotts by several of the countries expected to attend, according to a Channel 10 report.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) reportedly held secret meetings with Israel’s public broadcaster Kan and said its main concern about holding the event in the capital was that several countries may not participate, the report said.
Immediately after her victory, Israeli winner Netta Barzilai told the crowd, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Her message was echoed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many other politicians who insisted the event be held in the capital.
The Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday raised questions about next year’s competition in Israel, with a tweet advising fans not to “go booking your flights just yet” as the time and location of the 2019 event had yet to be set.
Are you already looking forward to next year’s #Eurovision? Us too! But don’t go booking your flights just yet, for official updates on where and when it’ll take place, keep an eye out for announcements on our official channels.
????: Thomas Hanses pic.twitter.com/O2sp3WOXvJ
— Eurovision (@Eurovision) May 22, 2018
According to Channel 10, the main concern of the organizers is that countries including Iceland, Ireland and Sweden could boycott the event due to the political situation.
In Iceland, over 25,000 people signed a petition demanding that the event be held elsewhere, “In view of the human rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people.” However, the national broadcaster said Iceland intends to take part in next year’s Eurovision song contest despite the petition.
Dublin Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha told Dublin Live news site that he would support an Irish boycott of the Israeli-hosted event. “I would support that, I don’t think we should send a representative,” he said.
Members of the We Support Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group discuss last night's #Eurovision win for Israel and next year's show in Jerusalem. To boycott or not to boycott? That is the question. pic.twitter.com/z5e0zyPt9w
— Dave Rich (@daverich1) May 13, 2018
The organizers also had concerns about preparations and transportation for the event.
Immediately after Israel won, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox UTJ party wrote to Culture Minister Miri Regev demanding that the event not violate the Sabbath. The contest is traditionally held on a Saturday evening. The Friday evening jury show and Saturday afternoon rehearsals would involve Sabbath transgressions.
Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12, as Barzilai triumphed with song “Toy.”
The other two Eurovision contests to be held in Israel took place at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
Michael Bachner contributed to this report.