JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem reportedly isn’t the only Israeli city in the mix to host the 2019 Eurovision song contest.
Israeli officials are set to present four cities as possible hosts for the contest after the Ministry of Communications announced Sunday that politics would be kept out of the decision.
The ministry said in a statement following a meeting between Israel Public Broadcasting Corp.’s CEO, Eldad Koblenz, and Communications Ministry Director General Nati Cohen that the public broadcaster, and not the government of Israel, will conduct negotiations with officials from the Eurovision song contest.
During the meeting, “it was agreed that all the matters relating to the production of content and the other issues of production will include the contacts with the European Broadcasting Union, with the emphasis that there will be no government political involvement in these matters,” said a statement from the ministry.
A delegation from Israel’s public broadcaster is scheduled to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with EBU officials next week, the Israeli business daily Globes reported Monday.
The Israelis reportedly will present Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat as possible host cities. The cities will have to submit detailed bids to be considered. They reportedly are the only Israeli cities to meet Eurovision’s requirements, which include a stadium with a capacity of at least 10,000; a press center for about 1,500 journalists; hotel capacity of about 3,000 rooms; round the clock public transportation; and in the vicinity of an international airport.
Israel won the right to host the 2019 Eurovision after Netta Barzilai won last month’s competition with the song “Toy.” At the time of her victory, Barzilai proclaimed that the competition would be held in Jerusalem, which was echoed by Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miri Regev.
Jerusalem as a venue has become increasingly controversial, including early calls for a boycott of next year’s song contest. Ynet reported last week that Eurovision organizers made clear to Israeli officials that if the location of next year’s competition became too much of a political football, it would move the venue.
Last week Argentina’s national soccer team canceled a friendly match in Jerusalem over pressure and physical threats from pro-Palestinian groups due to its location. The match had been moved to Jerusalem from Haifa.
Israel previously has hosted the Eurovision contest twice before in Jerusalem, a city that most countries do not recognize as Israel’s capital.
Globes reported that the total cost to Israel of hosting Eurovision will run between $41 million and $53 million. Israel is required to hand over a guarantee of $14 million to the European Broadcasting Union, or EBU, in August, according to the report.