Miri Regev, Sports and Culture Minister, has made an ultimatum to withdraw Israel’s automatic right to host the contest if it isn’t held in Jerusalem. Speaking to Israeli broadcaster KAN, Regev explains:
“I will recommend to the government that if the Eurovision is not in Jerusalem, then it wouldn’t be right to host it”
The matter-of-fact warning follows the recent cancelled football match between Israel and Argentina. The match was originally due to take place in Haifa, but was moved to Jerusalem by Regev. As host to Eurovision, she suggests Israel should have freedom to ‘market the country’, citing the deposit of NIS 50 million ($14 million) made to the EBU. However, these comments directly contradict a recent statement by the director of the Regev’s department, suggesting ‘Jerusalem 2019’ isn’t a certainty. Jerusalem have previously hosted the contest twice, in 1979 and 1999 respectively.
Regev’s statements appear to be a veiled comment at the recent meeting between the EBU and KAN. News site Ynetnews reports the EBU requested at least two Israeli cities tender a hosting bid. The Eurovision organisers also demanded the contest should be held in a “non-divisive” location. These two requests heavily imply Jerusalem is not the EBU’s favoured location for the 64th edition of the contest. The EBU have voiced concern of countries withdrawing from the 2019 contest While Petah Tikva have stated they intend to enter the bidding process, Tel Aviv have already confirmed they will not be submitting a bid.
Considering it has only been weeks since Netta’s victory, it’s unlikely an official confirmation will be anytime soon. In the event Israel is unable to host, the EBU will look for a suitable candidate. This may be the runner-up, Cyprus, but could also be another country. The last time the winner was unable to host, Israel in 1980, the contest was moved to The Netherlands. They finished in twelfth the year before.
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