Netanyahu: Gov't won't intervene in Eurovision

Kan officials head to Geneva for planning meeting with EBU

Culture Minister Miri Reveg (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Culture Minister Miri Reveg (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised on Monday that the Israeli government would not intervene in next year’s Eurovision competition.
Netanyahu held a meeting on Monday with Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Culture Minister Miri Regev, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and others to discuss the upcoming contest.
Following the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement making it clear that the government will follow the rules and regulations of the European Broadcasting Union.
The meeting occurred amid a swirl of controversy surrounding Regev and her many public and divisive statements about the competition.
Earlier this month, Regev proclaimed that if the competition couldn’t be hosted in Jerusalem, it shouldn’t be in Israel at all. And on Saturday night, the culture minister said she had reached out to the Kan public broadcaster with her “personal opinion,” requesting coordination on the video clips that will be played between songs during the competition.
But several other lawmakers have pushed back against Regev’s attempts to insert politics into the contest.
On Monday morning, Kara tweeted that he promised “not to politically intervene” and that “the Eurovision will be held in Israel. If it’s up to me,” he added, “It would be in our capital Jerusalem.”
On Sunday, Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin worked to gather signatures from her fellow lawmakers for a petition to Netanyahu to rebuke Regev. The petition called for the prime minister to instruct Regev “to stop dealing with the Eurovision contest in Israel.”
Nahmias-Verbin blamed the culture minister for the canceled Argentina-Israeli match earlier this month, and said Regev’s intervention could lead to the Eurovision being pulled out of Israel as well.
The first official planning meeting between Kan representatives and the EBU is set to be held in Geneva on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Kan said Monday that the teams would discuss a wide variety of issues, but would not elaborate. A spokeswoman from the EBU said it would only comment on the meetings “when they are concluded.”
Earlier this month, the EBU told The Jerusalem Post that it “insists that every Host Broadcaster takes all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event throughout the organization of the competition.”
In addition to the date and location of next year’s contest, the meeting in Geneva is certain to include a discussion of the legal status of Kan in Israel and its temporary membership in EBU. 
The political compromise deal – sanctioned by Netanyahu – which created Kan last year, calls for its news division to be split from its entertainment and current events coverage. The split has been temporarily halted by the High Court, but no permanent ruling has been made. If the news division is split off, Kan would not qualify for membership in the EBU.
After the meeting on Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office noted that there are “open legal issues regarding the Eurovision” in light of the upcoming High Court decision. Netanyahu, the statement said, “will examine the legal aspects of this issue with the relevant authorities before making a decision.”