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Eleven individual artists and singing groups took the stage last night in Jerusalem to compete in "Kdam Eurovision," the yearly competition to select Israel's representative at the Eurovision Song Contest. Channel 1 and radio station Reshet Gimmel broadcast the event live, with the outcome - announced after press time - decided by public voting via telephone and text message.
Competitors included pop groups Diamond'z and The Gameboys, as well as Eddie Butler, who represented Israel at Eurovision in 1999 as part of pop ensemble Eden. Also performing was frequent "Kdam" competitor Zvika Pick, who penned the tune to Israel's most recent winning Eurovision entry, as well as Mizrahi artist Avi Peretz. First to take the stage was a trio including Lubna Salame, a Kfar Yasif resident hoping to be Israel's first Arab representative at Eurovision.
The winner of yesterday's contest will be hard-pressed to match Shiri Maimon's fourth-place finish at last year's Eurovision, which according to competition rules automatically qualifies Israel for this year's final. Representatives from Turkey, Lebanon and countries across Europe will face off May 18 in Athens to qualify for the May 20 final, with the winner to be crowned based on text message and telephone voting.
Created in 1955 to promote peace and cultural exchange, Eurovision has included Israeli competitors since 1973. Israel has won the contest three times, most recently in 1998.