The EBU said in a statement, “Today, the Israeli public broadcaster, KAN, met with the EBU and Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group in Geneva, for initial discussions regarding the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 to be hosted in Israel.
“Planning for next year’s event has started and, as in previous years, a decision on which city will host the contest will be made following a bid process. The host city is due to be announced, along with official dates for the competition, by September.”
The IPBC issued its own statement, saying that the Kan team—led by Chairman Gil Omer and CEO Eldad Koblenz—met with representatives of the show’s production in Portugal and experts in major media events from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Italy, Sweden, Holland and Switzerland.
According to the EBU, four Israeli cities have expressed their interest in hosting the show: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. The official logo of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be released as soon as the host city is confirmed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified on Monday that the government would act in accordance with EBU rules concerning the Eurovision Song Contest.
Netanyahu convened a special meeting on the matter after the EBU implied that if the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation is split from its news division, it would be impossible to broadcast the Eurovision from Israel, despite Israel's Netta Barzilai winning the 2018 contest, as such a split contradicts EBU rules.
The law to split the IPBC has already passed a Knesset vote, but is being looked into by the High Court following a petition filed against it.
Monday’s meeting was attended by Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Minister Regev argued that there was no need to change the law, as splitting the IPBC won’t prevent Israel from hosting the Eurovision. Minister Kara, on the other hand, said it would be wrong to take the risk and suggested issuing a temporary provision to postpone the split.
Netanyahu clarified at the end of the meeting that in case of an explicit answer from the EBU that Israel would not be able to host the Eurovision in the event of an IPBC split, the government would act in accordance with the Europeans’ rules to guarantee that the musical event would be held in Israel after all.
After hearing from all parties, Netanyahu instructed the attorney general to approach the EBU and request a clear answer in writing to the following question: Will Israel be banned from hosting the Eurovision in case of an IPBC split?
Itamar Eichner contributed to this report.