Eurovision organizers have dismissed as “speculation” reports of political tensions over Israel’s hosting of the song contest next year, JTA reported Friday.
The organizers said in an email to the news agency that they are finalizing the event with Israeli officials.
They declined to explain why on Tuesday, they warned followers of the official Eurovision Twitter account not to book flights to Israel “just yet” and instead “keep an eye out for announcements on our official channels.”
“We have no more to say on the matter at this time,” organizers wrote in the email in response to a question on the unusual move, which they did not make in previous years.
The message touched off reports, which the organizers in the email dismissed as “speculation only,” of disagreements between organizers and Israeli officials over various aspects of the competition, including matters connected to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
“No decision on the location or dates for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 have been taken,” organizers wrote to JTA. “Work has begun on agreeing the specific logistics for hosting the competition, including where and when it will take place. The final decision will be taken by the host broadcaster in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union and its members.”
Israel won the 2018 contest, which took place in Lisbon on May 19, with the song “Toy” by Netta Barzilai.
Contest rules state that the winning country hosts the following year’s contest but the winning state can waive the right, as Israel did when it won for the second time in two years in 1979. At the time the waiver was used for economic reasons, as Israel's leaders cited the cost of producing such an event two years in a row. Israel also hosted Eurovision in 1999 after winning the contest in 1998.
Israel’s victory at Eurovision has prompted calls for a boycott of next year’s contest. One such call came from Dublin Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha, who said Ireland should boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in order to show solidarity with the “horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people.”
Mac Donncha’s call for a boycott came a day after several leftist Irish lawmakers expressed support for boycotting Israel following its winning the Eurovision song contest.
Iceland’s national broadcaster, meanwhile, last week indicated the country would take part in next year’s Eurovision song contest in Israel despite a popular petition calling to boycott the event.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)