Arab singers will boycott a music festival in Jordan next month over claims it is being set up by the same company which organized Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations in May, a union leader said on Monday.
The month-long Jordan Festival, due to open on July 8, will feature local and international artists including tenor Placido Domingo and jazz vocalist Diana Krall.
But several Arab singers will boycott it after calls by Jordan's Islamist-dominated 14 professional trade unions, said Shaher Hadid, president of the Jordan Artists Association.
Jordan's tourism board, however, denies that the company involved in the Israeli festivities is involved in the festival.
"Publicis Groupe has nothing to do with Jordan Festival. Another French company, Les Visiteurs du Soir, is organizing the event and it has been contracted by the tourism ministry," Tourism Board chief Nayef Fayez told AFP.
Publicis has organized several events in Jordan, including the annual meeting of Nobel laureates which was held in June in the ancient city of Petra.
Hadid said that Jordanian popular singer Omar Abdallat and Egyptian crooner Amr Diab are among Arab singers "who have announced their boycott of the event in line with decisions by their unions."
The union of Lebanese artists also decided to stay away from the event and urged "Lebanese artists to boycott the festival or any event that is linked to Israel," a statement said.
Jordanian trade unions maintain that the event is being organized by Publicis which orchestrated events for the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.
For Arabs the creation of Israel consecrated the occupation of Palestine.
"It's unimaginable that Arab singers take part in such a suspicious event... (meant) to open the door to normalization with the enemy (Israel)," the unions said in a statement.
Although Jordan and Israel are bound by a 1994 peace treaty, many Jordanians are opposed to normalization of ties with the Jewish state.