JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli band has dropped out of the Eurovision Song Contest because it would force some of its observant members to perform on the Jewish Sabbath.
The Shalva group says Wednesday it's quitting Israel's qualifying competition after the Eurovision organizers said it would make no exceptions for Israel's ultimate winner. The competition is held on a Saturday night and the compulsory rehearsal falls on the Sabbath.
Shalva, which has several members who are blind or have Down syndrome, has become a fan favorite and serious contender to sing Israel's entry. Israeli critics say the Eurovision seems tolerant of all besides Orthodox Jews.
The Eurovision final is on May 18. Israel earned the right to host the competition thanks to Netta Barzilai's win last year with "Toy."