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19 May, 2019 15:50

Iceland could be ‘punished’ for Palestinian flag display at Eurovision, say Israeli hosts

Iceland could be ‘punished’ for Palestinian flag display at Eurovision, say Israeli hosts

The Israeli broadcaster of the Eurovision said Iceland could be punished for holding up Palestinian flags during live coverage of the competition’s voting results.

Members of the Hatari group held up Palestinian flags with ‘Palestine’ written on them as the cameras were fixed on them during the announcement of their public votes at the final on Saturday night. The protest generated boos and cheers from the crowd at the Tel Aviv event, and support online.

Security quickly confiscated the flags from the band who were sitting in the green room at the time.

“The Icelanders will apparently be punished by the European Broadcasting Union, which is really not tolerant of those who violate its rules,” said Eldad Koblenz, CEO of Israel's public broadcaster Khan.

Eurovision is meant to be non-political, so contestants could be disqualified or fined for breaking this rule. The EBU said that the move “directly contradicts the contest rules.”

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“The banners were quickly removed and the consequences of this action will be discussed by the Reference Group [the event’s executive board] after the contest,” the EBU added.

Hatari were outspoken about their support for Palestinians before the international event, and said they were “conflicted” about taking part. They visited Hebron in the West Bank during the contest and told a Eurovision fan blog that the “apartheid” and “segregation was so clear” there.

While the group received praise for its protest, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said that because Iceland had attended the contest instead of boycotting it, it was rejecting “this fig-leafing.”

Madonna also featured a Palestinian flag in her performance at the event. Two of her dancers wore a Palestinian and Israeli flag on their backs and held hands in a surprise addition to the routine that had not been cleared by the EBU or Kan.

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