The Brief – Moving to Jerusalem?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won Eurovision on Saturday night (12 May) with the song “Toy”. You may like or dislike the tune but the fact is that her victory took place in a tense political context in which Israel makes many headlines. And that’s hardly the end of the story….

During her performance, Netta was joined by her pink-haired backing singers and dancers doing trademark chicken moves. Also accompanying her on stage were shelves filled with 112 kitschy Maneki-nekos, the popular Asian beckoning cats often used as lucky charms.

The sounds and the choreography resonated strongly with the public opinion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a video of him doing the “chicken moves” in front of journalists.

And on Facebook, Netanyahu exclaimed “Next year in Jerusalem!”

The Eurovision winner gets to host the next contest, which means that Eurovision 2019 will take place in Israel. The hashtag #NextYearInJerusalem is taking over the Internet.

“Not only is the embassy coming to Jerusalem, but the Eurovision too!” Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset) said on Saturday night.

Israel is in the spotlight for so much more. The US embassy is today relocating from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following President Donald Trump’s controversial decision, in a move that is further jeopardising the region’s fragile stability.

At the time of writing, dozens of protesters had been killed today on the Gaza border by Israeli troops. Palestinians were enraged by Trump’s decision and have called into question Washington’s position as a peace broker.

Israeli journalist, Eylon A. Levy, tweeted a list of things moving to Jerusalem: the US, Guatemala and Paraguay embassies, as well as the annual song contest.

Moving to Jerusalem has been the flavour of the week. The opening of the US Embassy was not a scoop but the decision of three EU countries to break ranks and attend the ceremony was unexpected.

The Commission did not want to comment on that. We also asked the Commission if Jerusalem as the venue for the next Eurovision edition was a problem for the EU. Indeed, a battle is already raging on social media to boycott next year’s festival in a city whose status is disputed, to say the least.

Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas was caught off-guard but got away by saying he was not a specialist in Eurovision procedures.

In fact, Jerusalem has already twice hosted the Eurovision show, in 1997 and 1999, and no big drama was reported.

However, it’s all about the context and this one is particularly tense. To interpret Netta’s victory as proof that there is no international animosity against Israel may be a big mistake.  To instrumentalise artists is an even bigger mistake.

Maybe Netanyahu should listen more closely to the winning song’s lyrics:

I’m not your toy (Not your toy),
You stupid boy (Stupid boy)…

The Roundup

The Roundup

By Alexandra Brzozowski

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hosts her Iranian counterpart today, while other world leaders also try to salvage something from the wreckage of the Iran nuclear deal.

Brussels will attempt to counter growing Russian influence in its Balkan backyard with promises of eventual bloc membership. It will try to boost ties with the region at a summit on Thursday.

Croatia’s deputy PM resigned over her alleged conflict of interest in the restructuring of the country’s biggest private company, the debt-laden food and retail concern Agrokor.

Italy’s rollercoaster ride towards a new government could be over soon as a PM pick may be in sight. Catalonia has a new president, as the pro-independence majority elected Quim Torra as the new head of government.

An ‘ultimate deadline’ was set by France for the UK for Brexit progress on the Irish border issue for the upcoming June summit. Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis calls the EU demand an ‘artificial deadline.’

With €375 billion in the new budget, cohesion remains a cornerstone of EU policies, says MEP Van Nistelrooij – despite the proposed cuts.

Czech firms in the southwest are facing labour shortages as residents living close to the border are increasingly commuting to Germany for work. The main incentives: higher salaries and kindergeld.

While the Commission’s analysis of clean air measures adopted at national level are at a “very advanced stage”, final results in clean air infringement proceedings are ‘a political decision’, says EU environment official Daniel Calleja Crespo.

Look out for…

The EU/E3 meeting with Iran on the nuclear deal will take place in Brussels tomorrow afternoon. Mogherini will then also meet with foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK to coordinate further EU action.

Views are the author‘s

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