Israel to compete at Eurovision despite boycott threats

Entertainment

Israel will compete at Eurovision next year, despite calls for the country to be banned over its conflict with Hamas, organisers have said.

Artists from Iceland had called for a boycott of the contest in Malmo, Sweden, unless Israel was prevented from taking part, after its ground invasion of Gaza.

Irish broadcaster RTE has also had a petition signed by more than 500 people setting out similar demands.

However, Eurovision organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), told Sky News Israel would be taking part, saying the country’s participation was confirmed by the executive board.

It said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public service broadcasters from across Europe and the Middle East.

“It is a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the contest for 50 years.”

It said the EBU is a member-led organisation, headed by an executive board, and they agreed Israel’s KAN “meets all the competition rules and can participate in the contest next year”.

More on Eurovision

Eurovision is ‘non-political’

The EBU said it is aligned with sporting unions and federations, which have taken a similar stance towards Israel, and said it is not up to the organisation to make comparisons between war and conflict.

Referring to Russia’s exclusion from the contest in 2022, the EBU told Sky News the governing bodies of the organisation decided on the course of action.

“The Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that unites audiences worldwide through music,” it added.

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People scramble for aid trucks in Gaza

Read more: Ukrainian 2016 Eurovision winner placed on Russia’s wanted list

Noa Kirel, a former Israel Defence Forces soldier, represented Israel in Liverpool in 2023, finishing in fourth place.

Both Iceland and Israel have confirmed their participation for next year’s contest, but have not selected entries.

The BBC revealed on Saturday that Olly Alexander of pop band Years and Years will represent the UK.

The UK, represented by Mae Muller, came second to last in the 2023 contest in Liverpool, with Sweden’s Loreen winning for a second time.

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