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May 21, 2018 12:39 pm

Israeli Minister Invites Arab States to Next Year’s Eurovision Contest in Jerusalem

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israel’s Netta Barzilai performs after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018. Reuters / Pedro Nunes.

Israel’s communications minister has invited several Arab states to take part in next year’s Eurovision song contest in Jerusalem.

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won this year’s contest with the song “Toy.” Traditionally, the winner’s country hosts the next year’s event. Barzilai concluded her victory speech by saying, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

According to Israel’s Channel Two, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara told Israeli television, “We will invite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States — Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and also Tunisia to participate in the Eurovision contest. Why not? If they just request it.”

The statement is an indication of the warming relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as the other Gulf states. However, Channel Two notes that these countries would likely not be eligible for the contest.

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According to the contest’s rules, countries must be members of the EBU, which sponsors the event, which Saudi Arabia and the others are not. In addition, they are ineligible because countries that wish to join must broadcast the contest the year before they wish to participate.

Several Arab countries are members of the EBU — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco — but have refused to participate alongside Israel in the past.

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