Times of Israel have today reported that the Israeli government will drop their Jerusalem demand. Earlier, it seemed the government were going to stick by their desire to let Jerusalem host the Eurovision Song Contest. Allegedly however, the government took the decision on Friday not to interfere with the host city decision.
Netanyahu leaves Miri Regev out
The conference call on Friday included senior officials of the Israeli government. Besides Prime Minister Netanyahu, three others attended the meeting. They were Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Interestingly, the most vocal supporter of a Eurovision in Jerusalem, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev was not present at the meeting.
Last week, Regev spoke out on Israel’s hosting duty for next year’s contest. She issued an ultimatum, where she said that Israel should not host Eurovision at all if they couldn’t host it in Jerusalem. Her statement followed the cancellation of the football friendly between Israel and Argentina. The Argentinian FA decided against travelling to Jerusalem. After that, Prime Minister Netanyahu already said international pressure could lead to more major events pulling out of going to Jerusalem. This might have been a reference to the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest.
At the meeting, the four officials decided that KAN will handle all negotiations with the EBU. The Israeli government would not interfere with the decision anymore, as they believe that would only make matters more complicated. The government had been setting out the Jerusalem demand over the past few weeks, with Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming Eurovision to Jerusalem when Netta arrived home from Lisbon.
Other options now wide open
In the past two days, we already reported that two cities had decided to join the host city race for Eurovision 2019. Both cities do however still need a bit of work before they could host the contest. Haifa has a decent size venue with the Sammy Ofer Stadium. That venue would however require a roof. Furthermore, the northern city might not have enough hotel rooms available.
The latest addition to the list is one of Israel’s most loved tourist destinations. Eilat, located in the south of Israel, is the smallest city currently hoping to host the contest. Where Haifa’s arena requires a roof, Eilat requires a whole lot more, as there currently is no venue with a capacity of more than 3,000.
Other options currently on the table are Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The latter may still be the frontrunner, even without the government interfering. Jerusalem has two arenas available, being the Pais Arena and the Teddy Stadium. Like the Sammy Ofer Stadium, the latter would need a roof before being suitable to host Eurovision.
Tel Aviv have in previous comments said they would not bid to host Eurovision. The Mayor of the city considered Jerusalem the rightful host of the contest. However, with criticism arising around that decision, rumour has it Tel Aviv might be back in the running. Their arena would be the Menor Mivtachim Arena, which could host around 10,000 people.
Like in Eilat, the last host city has a problem with the venue. Petah Tikva currently does not have a venue. They would therefore need to be considered outsiders to get the hosting rights.
Who do you think will host Eurovision 2019? Is it a smart decision from the Israeli government to no longer interfere with KAN’s job? Let us know!