Here’s a surprising news report! Julien Bahloul, a reporter for French-language Israeli news channel i24news, has revealed that the Israeli Minister of Communications has announced that he will invite a number of other countries from the Middle Eastern and North African region, which Israel largely has tense relationships with, including Tunisia and Saudi Arabia to participate in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
All aboard to Jerusalem!
Have a read of the original tweet below that reveals this statement. For non-French speakers, Bahloul explains that the Israeli Minister of Communications “will invite Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Tunisia and other countries in the region to participate in next year’s competition in Jerusalem.
#Eurovision : le ministre israélien de la Communication l'affirme, #Israel "va inviter l'Arabie Sadouite, Dubai, Abou Dabi la Tunisie et autres pays de la région" à participer au concours l'an prochain à #Jerusalem. Précision : le ministre est un habitué des déclarations étranges
— Julien Bahloul (@julienbahloul) May 21, 2018
Nevertheless, Bahloul notes that the Minister regularly releases “strange statements”. Therefore, it remains to be seen exactly how this will play out.
Are these countries eligible to participate?
To participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, a nation must be within the Council of Europe or its broadcaster must be a full member of the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU broadcasting zone extends into North Africa, which makes the likes of Morocco and Tunisia both eligible to participate. Morocco did participate in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, a year in which Israel did not participate. In addition, Tunisia was due to perform in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest but withdrew shortly before the contest. It is believed this was because broadcaster ERTT did not want to compete with Israel.
Other countries from the North African and Middle Eastern region which are eligible to participate include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon (who were due to participate in the 2005 contest with Aline Lahoud before withdrawing shortly before the competition as Lebanese laws banned the broadcasting of Israeli content) and Libya. Nations further east than Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are not eligible to participate despite the Israeli Minister’s claims.
Thank you to one of our readers for pointing out to us that a small portion of Saudi Arabia is in fact inside the European Broadcasting Area (EBA). Although, at this point in time, they have no broadcasters inside the EBU. Nevertheless, the Saudi national broadcaster would be eligible to join the EBU in the future! Additionally, Iraq and Syria are also inside the EBA. Therefore, their national broadcasters would also be eligible to join the EBU if they wished.
Would you like to see some of the Arab nations take part in Eurovision? Let us know @ESCXTRA!