According to Israeli MK Miri Regev, the 2019 Eurovision song contest should either be held in Jerusalem or not at all.

Netta Barzilai preforms at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv

Netta Barzilai preforms at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90

Israeli Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev made waves today (Thursday) when she said that next year’s Eurovision should either be held in Jerusalem- or not at all.

“I will recommend to the government that if the Eurovision Song Contest will not be held in Jerusalem, we shouldn’t be hosting it,” Regev said in an interview with Israeli broadcaster Kan Bet.

“It will cost Israel 50 million shekel. It’s meant to promote the country,” she said. I personally say that if the Eurovision won’t be in Jerusalem, it wouldn’t be right to invest 50 million shekels of taxpayers’ money into it. The State of Israel has a capital called Jerusalem and we don’t need to be ashamed of it.”

Not everyone agrees with Regev, however, “Eurovision in Jerusalem? It’s not a given at all,” said Yossi Sharabi, director-general of Israel’s Culture and Sport Ministry, when he was asked about the cancelled Argentina-Israel match set to be held in Jerusalem. “Everyone wants [the Eurovision] to be in Jerusalem, but there could be other factors.”

Israel’s representative to the Eurovision Netta Barzilai won this year’s song contest in May with her hit song “Toy.” As per the rules of the competition, Israel’s win means that it has the right to host the 2019 finals.

In her acceptance speech in Lisbon, Barzilai told the 200 million viewers: “Thank you so much for celebrating differences between us. Thank you so much for celebrating diversity. Thank you! I love my country! Next time Jerusalem!”

Minutes after Barzilai’s win, Israeli politicians excitedly began making plans to host the contest in Jerusalem. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted: “We are proud of you, dear Netta. We are waiting for everyone next year in Jerusalem!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “You brought great honor to the state of Israel. Here’s to next year in Jerusalem!”

Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, thanked Barzilai for bringing the Eurovision to his city and said that Jerusalem will help in putting up the Eurovision “in the capital of Israel, and together we will show the beautiful face of Jerusalem to the whole world.”