The Jerusalem Post has learned that the Israel Broadcasting Corporation – which went live in May – has been granted temporary membership in the European Broadcasting Union. According to the EBU – which runs the annual singing contest – Israel will be allowed to participate in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal no matter what. But its permanent membership – and future participation – is still in jeopardy.
According to Claire Rainford, senior communications officer for the EBU, the union is waiting on that decision at least until November, when the High Court is slated to rule on the legality of the legislation which created the IBC, known as Kan.
We will be taking a decision on membership after the court ruling on news which I believe we are expecting in early November,” Rainford told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “They are allowed to enter the song contest while they wait on a decision on membership.”
The Israel Broadcasting Authority, the IBC’s predecessor, which went off the air this year after 69 years, had been a member of the EBU since 1957. But the political compromise deal which created the IBC separated the news division from its other broadcasting duties. Such a move would disqualify it from membership in the EBU, and therefore from participation in the Eurovision contest.
In May, the High Court issued an injunction preventing the news division from splitting off, but it is expected to issue a permanent ruling in November. If it allows the split, the IBC’s membership in the EBU will be in jeopardy. If it bans it, a new political firestorm will erupt, since it took months of negotiations to finally produce the law creating it.
In the Eurovision contest that took place earlier this year, Israel confused viewers by bidding goodbye to the show. It was the final contest for the IBA, and Israel’s representative, Ofer Nachshon, said goodbye to viewers live on air.
“For the past 44 years Israel has participated in the Eurovision song contest, winning three times,” he told the Ukrainian hosts in May during the live show. “But tonight is our final night, shortly IBA will shut down its broadcasting forever. So on behalf of all of us here in IBA, let me say thank you Europe for all the magical moments and the beautiful music…. and hopefully we shall meet again in the future.”
Nachshon’s speech caused widespread confusion and panic on social media about Israel leaving the show after decades of participation. European media picked up the story as well; a headline on the UK’s Mirror Online read: “Israel QUITS Eurovision Song Contest live on air after taking part for 44 years.”
No matter what the High Court rules in November, Israel will be a part of the Eurovision contest next year. But whether that competition will be its last remains to be seen.