ISRAEL – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been officially invited to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 19 along with a slew of other ministers connected to Israel’s hosting of the event, with the exclusion of Culture Minister Miri Regev.
Those invited include Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the Ynet news site reported. Neither Netanyahu nor the ministers have confirmed they will be attending the extravaganza.
Regev has been at odds with much of the Israeli arts scene throughout her term, over her moves to condition funding on “loyalty” to the state.
Organizers of the competition have frequently clashed with the government over the funding for the event.
On Monday, the Calcalist daily reported that Netanyahu is mulling cutting two-thirds of the budget of the Kan public broadcaster, the local media partner putting on the show. Such a cut would effectively be a death sentence for the corporation and would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.
The government refused to give any money to the broadcaster for its €12 million ($14 million) security guarantee to host the contest, claiming that its annual budget is sufficient to cover the costs, and adding that the government believes the broadcaster was playing a game of chicken to increase its funding.
“The broadcasting authority is trying to destroy the Eurovision with its wasteful attitude,” a source close to Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Hebrew media.
“The prime minister and the finance minister decided that a body that receives NIS 750 million in public funding can find the budget for the Eurovision guarantee,” he said.