Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday claimed Israel’s win at the 2018 Eurovision contest was a scam, saying “Israel knows only how to kill, not how to sing.”
During an interview with Turkish television station, Yildirim said Netta Barzilai’s winning song “Toy” was “not good,” and claimed the voting system had been rigged by “imperialists” in order to ensure next year’s competition would take place in Jerusalem in order to “sow strife between religions” in the region.
“They let Israel win, even though they did not have enough points, so they could host the competition next year,” he said.
According to the annual competition’s rules, the winning country hosts the following year’s contest.
Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed the assertion as “unworthy of a response,” beyond noting that Israel has won Eurovision four times “with wonderful songs.”
Yildirim went on to personally attack Barzilai, asserting that the “Israeli singer was not good. She can’t sing.”
Turkey has not participated in Eurovision since 2013.
Last month, Eurovision organizers dismissed as “speculation” reports of political tensions over Israel’s hosting of the song contest next year.
Israel has hosted the Eurovision contest twice before in Jerusalem, which most countries do not recognize as Israel’s capital.
Last week it was reported that the government will not intervene in determining the location of next year’s song contest, amid fears that ministers could torpedo’s Israel’s chance at hosting the event if they insist on holding it in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Kan public broadcaster is tasked with organizing the 2019 contest, but politicians have insisted that the venue be in the capital despite reports that some countries or artists could balk at taking part out of concerns of politicizing the event.
The decision for the government to back off was made during a telephone meeting on Friday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the Channel 20 news station reported Sunday.