(May 22, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara has invited Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to compete in Eurovision 2019 alongside Israel.
After Israel’s Netta Barzilai won this year’s Eurovision, next year’s song contest will be held in Jerusalem.
Kara said in an interview on the Knesset TV channel on Monday, “We will invite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to come take part in the Eurovision in Israel.”
Some African and Arab countries have previously declared their desire to compete, such as Qatar in 2009.
In 2005, Lebanon selected a song to compete but was forced to withdraw after refusing to broadcast the Israeli entry.
The only successful participant was Morocco in 1980, the year in which Israel did not compete out of respect for Yom Hazikaron, its holiday remembering fallen soldiers and victims of terror, which fell on the same day.
Israel, as well as various other Arab countries, are allowed to compete, as many are members of the European Broadcasting Union. One barrier to entry, however, is the fact that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are not members.
At the same time, an Icelandic petition with more than 25,000 signees urges its public-broadcasting company to boycott next year’s Eurovision, stating that it is “morally indefensible to engage in a glamorous event like the Eurovision [given]the human-rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people.”
The petition stated, “During the past few months, Israel has killed dozens of people whose only crime was to protest the situation in Gaza.”
Iceland’s national public-broadcasting organization is expected to decide in June whether it will take part in the 2019 competition.