Eurovision says Tel Aviv will host 2019 song contest

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Jerusalem (AP) — The Eurovision Song Contest has announced that next year’s competition will be held in Tel Aviv, clearing up some of the political controversy surrounding Israel’s hosting of the 2019 competition.

The Israeli government had initially insisted on holding the popular event in Jerusalem. But following a backlash over the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as its capital and a subsequent fear of boycotts it dropped the demand to host the world’s largest live music event. The Eurovision said it chose Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and commercial epicenter, over Jerusalem and the southern city of Eilat because of its “creative and compelling bid.”

Israel won the Eurovision this year with a flashy pop tune called “Toy” by the charismatic, previously unknown singer Netta Barzilai, who dazzled viewers with her feminist lyrics, unconventional appearance and signature chicken dance. Her victory earned Israel the right to host next year’s contest.

The Eurovision says its semifinals will be held in Tel Aviv on May 14 and 16 followed by the Grand Final on May 18.

The Eurovision has previously provided Israel with some cultural touchstones.

“Hallelujah” became the country’s unofficial national song after it won the contest for Israel when it hosted the event in the late 1970s, and Dana International became a national hero and global transgender icon when she won with “Diva” in 1998.