Fears over Eurovision in Israel with calls in three countries to boycott next year's contest

Concerns after people in Iceland, Sweden and Ireland call for withdrawal from 2019 event


Israel’s plan to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem has sparked a political row with at least three countries threatening to boycott the event.

Israeli winner Netta Barzilai told millions of viewers tuned into coverage of the music contest earlier this month that it would be held “next year in Jerusalem.”

In the aftermath of the singer’s claim, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leading politicians all made remarks suggesting Jerusalem would be next year’s venue.

But organisers have now raised concerns with Israeli officials that Iceland, Sweden and Ireland could be among the nations to boycott the event if it did take place in the city.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has reportedly already held meetings with Israel’s public broadcaster Kan over fears of a mass boycott of the event.

In Iceland, with its population of 330,000, over 25,000 people have signed a petition calling for the country to boycott the event in the wake of the recent deaths of protesters on the Gaza border during Hamas-led demonstrations.

Ambassador Raphael Schutz, the Israeli consul to Iceland, last week held a meeting with the country’s public broadcaster RUV in an attempt to smooth over fears that they would snub next year’s event.

Following the meeting Israeli officials were said to be “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome. RUV have suggested no decision has been made yet over the screening of the event.

Despite the activist boycott calls, Iceland had awarded victorious Netta eight points during the contest – the third highest available. And in the public vote she was the fourth most popular choice.

Meanwhile in Ireland, Dublin Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha has backed calls for a boycott saying: “I would support that, I don’t think we should send a representative.”

In Sweden, the Left Party are also leading calls for a boycott of next year’s event.

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12 when Netta Barzilai triumphed with her song “Toy".

The two previous Eurovision contests to be held in Israel took place at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre.

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