Group calls on RTÉ to back Eurovision broadcast boycott in illegal Israel settlements

The annual song contest is being held in Tel Aviv

Group calls on RTÉ to back Eurovision broadcast boycott in illegal Israel settlements

Netta (centre) holds up the 2018 Eurovision trophy in Lisbon | Image: Thomas Hanses

An Irish group is calling on RTÉ to support a demand for Eurovision not to be broadcast in illegal Israel settlements.

The annual song contest is being held in Tel Aviv, after Israeli singer Netta won the show in Lisbon earlier this year with her song 'Toy'.

It followed earlier speculation that the show could have taken place in the disputed city of Jerusalem.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has written to the director-general of RTÉ, Dee Forbes, Rory Coveney, strategic advisor to the director-general, and Michael Kealy, head of RTÉ's delegation for Eurovision.

It is asking them to call on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) not to broadcast any Eurovision events into Israel's illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

"Should the EBU and its members broadcast the Eurovision events in illegal settlements, this could be in breach of international law", the letter claims.

Eurovision Song Contest Tel Aviv 2019 © EBU

It also points to the passing of Senator Frances Black's Occupied Territories Bill, banning trade with illegal settlements, having passed through the final stage in the Seanad - showing "momentum behind upholding international law regarding Israel's illegal settlements".

The former director-general of RTÉ, Noel Curran, is the current head of the EBU.

Thousands of people have also signed a European-wide petition for the Eurovision not to be held in Israel.

Musicians and political activists joined forces last June to call for an Irish boycott.

Executive committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Dr Hanan Ashrawi, has called on the EBU to take action.

In a statement, he says: "Giving Israel the privilege of hosting the 2019 Eurovision amounts to rewarding it for and helping it to conceal its decades-old military occupation and grave violations of Palestinian national and human rights.

"At the very least, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) must ensure that Israel’s illegal settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territory are strictly excluded from any broadcast of the Eurovision activities."

The EXPO Tel Aviv International Convention Centre, where the 2019 contest will be held | Image: © European Broadcasting Union

He says the PLO "demands that the EBU oblige all of its members and associate members, especially Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, to not broadcast any Eurovision Song Contest events in Israel's illegal settlements, including those in occupied East Jerusalem.

"This is the minimum that the EBU must do to be in compliance with the obligations of non-state actors, including businesses and organisations, under international law and European policy, particularly given the unprecedented escalation of Israel’s unlawful unilateralism and criminal behaviour."

The semi-finals will take place on May 14th and 16th - with the Grand Final on May 18th.