The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), organizer of the Eurovision song contest, on Tuesday sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu its list of conditions which Israel must meet in order to be able to host the 2019 contest.
Since 1981, all Eurovision contests have been held in the country which won the previous year, and this year, Israel won the right to host the 2019 contest after Israeli Netta Barzilai won the 63rd Eurovision event.
Among other requirements, the EBU wants Netanyahu to guarantee that participants will be allowed enter Israel regardless of their political views, to travel freely in the country, and to enjoy complete freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
An Israeli law enacted last year allows government to refuse entry to Israel and the PA to advocates of the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Since then about 250 individuals have been banned from visiting Israel, with the official reason in most cases being the visitor’s support for terrorism.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated in response to the EBU demand: “I do not understand by what right the European Broadcasting Union has the audacity to come and make such claims and demand, contrary to the legislation of a democratic state, that a person should be granted entry to Israel even if he works all day and all night to harm Israel so that it is boycotted and isolated.”
The EBU also demands that Israel agree not to restrict in any way the events related to the contest that would fall on Shabbat. This is a response to an appeal from Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) for a guarantee that Shabbat laws won’t be violated by the holding the contest in Israel.