Simon Cowell has canceled his appearance as a member of the judging panel for the upcoming season of “X Factor Israel.”
The iconic reality TV personality signed a deal last year to be one of the judges for the Israeli version of “X Factor” but is now canceling “for his own reasons,” a spokesperson for Reshet, the show’s network, told Variety on Sunday.
Last week as rumors swirled of Cowell’s potential cancellation, a Reshet representative told Vareity that members of Cowell’s staff had expressed “legitimate concerns” about Cowell’s involvement in the show, citing the recent violence between Israel and militant Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.
A source close to Cowell, who is currently a judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, told Jewish News last week that the veteran TV presenter is “bitterly disappointed” that he will not be traveling to Israel to film the show.
“Simon won’t be going to Israel after all,” the source said. “I know it has already been announced that he was one of the judges, but for a number of reasons he just can’t be there in Israel to film the show now. Of course he is bitterly disappointed – but it was a decision he had to take.”
The fourth season of “X Factor Israel” is scheduled to begin filming this summer. Cowell’s appearance on the show would have been the first time he served as a judge on an “X Factor” show outside of the U.K. and U.S.
“Over the years The X Factor format discovered amazing talents from all over the world, I can’t wait to see what Israel have to offer,” Cowell said in December when it was announced he would be serving as a judge for the show.
Cowell spent the latter half of 2020 recovering from complex back surgery after he broke his back in an electric bike accident.
More than 250 people were killed over 11 days of conflict between Gaza and Israel that began on May 10 but was suspended when Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
The conflict began when Hamas fired rockets into Israel following a clash between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel responded with air strikes targeting Hamas in Gaza. Both sides have claimed victory in the conflict.
Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, has long been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced another $112 million in relief for Palestinians and other relief projects in Gaza and said the U.S. will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, a move aimed at enhancing diplomatic relations with the Palestinians after they were de-prioritized under former President Trump.
Blinken said that the U.S. is in the process of providing a total of $360 million to support the Palestinian people. The secretary of state has insisted that no aid will go to Hamas.
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