JERUSALEM POST REPORTS / ISRAEL – The two European directors of the Eurovision sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday slamming the government for delays in preparation for the contest.
“Work cannot resume without the K9 bomb search routine being appropriately undertaken,” Frank-Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest and Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the competition, wrote in the letter.
“Without a rapid turnaround of this instruction, the delays entailed by the absence of this essential security measure will have severe and significant negative consequences on the ability to hold the rehearsals on time and thus on the budget and on the quality of the shows that will be broadcast out of Tel Aviv.”
The dispute broke out on Sunday evening, when KAN CEO Elad Koblenz wrote to four government ministries noting that lack of funding had resulted in police stopping work at the Eurovision site and construction subsequently halting.
Koblenz said if police inspection of the equipment does not restart immediately, then the budget and timetable of the Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv in May will be called into question.
In the biting letter, the European Broadcasting Union officials told Netanyahu that they see this as yet another indication the government is not meeting its responsibilities.
“It is already irritating enough that over the last few months there has been constant discussions on who is paying what for the external security measures around the Eurovision Song Contest,” Freiling and Sand wrote.
They further pointed out that security is of utmost importance in particular in Tel Aviv, referencing the recent rocket attacks on Israel’s Center.
“As you may guess, in view of the recent events in Tel Aviv, this is already a delicate topic for the delegations,” they wrote. “This new information will only raise more concerns and questions on the appropriateness of the security and safety measures implemented in Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Freiling and Sand wrote to Netanyahu that they “are available for a discussion by phone at any time today as consequences could be disastrous for the Eurovision Song Contest and Israel.”
The EBU’s letter follows Koblenz’s missive on Sunday to the four government ministries who agreed last week to fund the competition’s security needs.
“In light of the current halting of production,” Koblenz wrote, “there is a real danger that the production will not be able to meet its deadlines.”
Last week, the four ministries and KAN agreed to split the NIS 7.5 million costs of security for the competition, with each of the five bodies contributing NIS 1.5 million each.
A source in the Public Security Ministry told Israel Hayom that the other three government ministries who agreed to foot the security bill have yet to transfer the funds. The source said the ministry cannot pay for all the expenses itself.
Zivit Davidovich, the executive producer of this year’s Eurovision, wrote on Facebook late Sunday night that she is “feeling ashamed of my country. The ESC pavilion – empty because of police strike against the event.”
On Monday, KAN shared a video by Davidovich of Pavilion 2 at Expo Tel Aviv – which is set to house the competition – with no work taking place at all.
“The image of the State of Israel is being harmed,” a KAN spokeswoman said Monday. “There are damages of half a million shekels a day – from public funds – as a result of the delay due to the conduct of the government ministries.”
KAN said two foreign companies are currently at the Expo Tel Aviv with manpower and equipment but are unable to begin work because of the police halt in work.
Since the moment Israel won the Eurovision last year – awarding it the right to host this year – the KAN public broadcaster has publicly sparred with the government over funding.
After a public standoff in August, KAN and the Finance Ministry agreed to a deal where the public broadcaster took out a NIS 70 million loan, and will use NIS 50 million of its budget to fund the competition.
KAN claims that this is the first year in which the Eurovision host country’s government will not be participating in the costs of the competition.
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THIS IS NOT AN APRIL 1st JOKE: The two European directors of the Eurovision sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday slamming the government for delays in preparation for the contest. "Work cannot resume without the K9 bomb search routine being appropriately undertaken," Frank-Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest and Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the competition, wrote in the letter. "Without a rapid turnaround of this instruction, the delays entailed by the absence of this essential security measure will have severe and significant negative consequences on the ability to hold the rehearsals on time and thus on the budget and on the quality of the shows that will be broadcast out of Tel Aviv." Stay tuned for details – source @thejerusalem_post @oikotimes @eurovision #oikotimes #eurovision