Skip to main content

Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, to host Eurovision 2019 song contest

Israel's Netta sparked controversy after she declared the Eurovision 2019 would be hosted in Jerusalem
Israel's Netta won Eurovision 2018 with the song 'Toy' during the grand finals in Lisbon, Portugal (Reuters)

Tel Aviv will host the Eurovision song contest in 2019, the singing competition announced on Thursday, shelving speculation that Jerusalem would host the competition. 

Eurovision's supervisory board selected Tel Aviv after Kan, Israel's public broadcaster, was asked to present Eurovision’s governing body with three options.

Jon Ola Sand, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, confirmed the decision on Thursday and said that Tel Aviv was given hosting rights as it had the “best setup”.

“We received three strong bids, but in the end, we decided that Tel Aviv has the overall best setup to host the biggest entertainment show in the world,” Sand said in a video announcement.

The competition finals will take place on 18 May 2019 in Tel Aviv's International Convention Centre.

Israel gained hosting rights after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the song contest this year with the song "Toy".

But the 25-year-old Barzilai courted controversy after she shouted "next time in Jerusalem", sparking fears that the event would be hosted in the contested capital. 

The European Broadcasting Union runs the contest. Last year, 200 million people tuned in to watch the Eurovision grand final in Lisbon, Portugal.

While not in Europe, Israel participates in Eurovision as it is a member of the European Broadcasting Union and has won the competition four times.

In response to the announcement, 100 artists supporting the pro-Palestinian cultural boycott movement against Israel have called for a boycott of the contest in Israel.

“We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel,” the statement read.

Israel has been hit by a recent spate of high-profile music artists pulling out of scheduled performances in Israel following pressure from the pro-Palestinian boycott campaign.

Lana Del Rey cancelled her planned Israel tour this month following a similar public announcement by New Zealand's Lorde in January after pleas from BDS activists.

US President Donald Trump controversially recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December and in May moved the US embassy to the city, which most countries say must form part of a final settlement with Palestinians. More than 60 Palestinians protesting the embassy move were killed by Israeli forces on 14 May.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.