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Israel should be dropped from Eurovision if Gaza war continues, say Belgian ministers

1 min

Two Belgian ministers have called for Israel's exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest while the Gaza war is ongoing as a punitive measure for the toll on Palestinian civilians.

The statements made by these ministers are scandalous, Reuters/Denis Balibouse

Two Belgian ministers have called for Israel's exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest while the Gaza war is ongoing as a punitive measure for the toll on Palestinian civilians.

Controversy over the conflict has hit various cultural events, with organiser The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) resisting calls from some artists and activists for Israel to be dropped from Europe's May 7-11 annual song competition.

Belgium's French-speaking Culture Minister Benedicte Linard and Flemish counterpart Benjamin Dalle added their voices.

"Just like Russia has been excluded from competitions and Eurovision following its invasion of Ukraine, Israel should be excluded until it puts an end to its flagrant violations of international law, which are causing thousands of victims, especially children," she said on X.

There was no immediate response from the EBU, or from Israel, which says it is the victim of a smear campaign over its push to root Hamas militants out of the Palestinian enclave.

Linard told parliament on Wednesday she would ask French-language public broadcaster RTBF, which is organising Belgium's participation in Eurovision, to voice the concerns to the EBU.

Dalle said an Israeli suspension would be appropriate while so many Palestinian civilians were suffering, according to a report by Flemish broadcaster VRT.

The statements made by these ministers are scandalous.

Israel has already agreed to revise the lyrics of its potential submission to the song contest after EBU took issue with verses that appeared to reference Hamas' Oct. 7 attack.

The leading Israeli submission is "October Rain", a ballad sung by female soloist Eden Golan. It had included lyrics such as: "There's no air left to breathe" and "They were all good children, each one of them" - apparent allusions to victims of Hamas' killing and kidnapping spree which sparked the war.

Eurovision, to take place this year in the Swedish city of Malmo, bills itself as a non-political event and can disqualify contestants deemed to have breached that rule.

By Charlotte Van Campenhout

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