Turkish PM: Israeli Eurovision win was rigged

Binali Yidrim says Netta Barzilai isn't very good, and Israelis 'only know how to kill, not sing'.

June 16, 2018 22:07
2 minute read.
Israel's Netta arrives for the news conference after winning the Grand Final of Eurovision.

Israel's Netta arrives for the news conference after winning the Grand Final of Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 13, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/PEDRO NUNES)


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Israel’s win at the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year was rigged, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a live TV interview on Friday evening.

“For the first time, they allowed Israel to win the competition so that they can host it next year,” Yildrim said, according to several reports of the Babala interview. “They changed the voting method to ensure that this could happen. They planned everything so that it could be held in Jerusalem.”

Netta Barzilai’s win earlier this year was the country’s fourth win in the competition, not its first.

Turkey, which won the contest once, in 2003, has not participated in the competition since 2012, citing dissatisfaction with new voting rules.

Yildirim said Turkey has no plans to return to the competition. He also said Barzilai was not a good singer, and that “Israel knows only to kill, not to sing.”

Instead, the contest was fixed so that Israel could win: “They planned to do it in Jerusalem, to foster conflict between religions,” he said.

Despite proclamations by Culture Minister Miri Regev and other government officials, the city for next year’s Eurovision has yet to be officially decided.

After a report on Channel 2 News on Saturday night, Regev issued a statement that she does not plan on intervening in the content of next year’s competition – but believes she has the right to do so.

The report stated that Regev requested that the Kan public broadcaster coordinate the content of the show with the government, and said the culture minister was unhappy with Kan’s representative, Lucy Ayoub, using Arabic while on the screen this year.

“Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has no intention of intervening with the content,” the statement read. “Nevertheless, the minister made her personal position on the matter clear: The Eurovision contest is a chance to show the beautiful and diverse face of Israeli society.” Therefore, Regev continued, she made a request to coordinate “between Kan and the government, which is spending public money on the competition and on the public broadcaster.”

The rules of the competition clearly state political figures and considerations may not play any role in the competition.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly held a phone conversation with several other ministers – not including Regev – in which he urged that there be no political involvement in the competition. Netanyahu also reportedly said during the conversation that the government would not be involved in the selection of the host city.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Kan told The Jerusalem Post that there is not, nor will there be, any government involvement in the competition.

“There is no connection – and it is forbidden for there to be – between the government and the Eurovision,” said Sharon Ben-David. “The entire operation is run only by Kan.”

Representatives from Kan are slated to hold a meeting this week in Geneva with officials from the European Broadcasting Union to begin the process of planning next year’s competition.

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