After a long, long process that began in July of last year, we have a winner! The victor of X Factor Israel and the artist who will represent Israel at Eurovision in May is … MICHAEL BEN DAVID, with the song “I.M.”!

The winner was decided through a series of duels, with each of the four finalists (Michael Ben David, Eli Huli, Sapir Saban, and Inbal Bibi) facing off in pairs. In the first set of duels, the singers performed covers, with the winners of the duels advancing to the 3-person super final.

Duel 1: Michael Ben David vs. Inbal Bibi

[Click the artists’ names to view their performances.]

Michael performed the ballad “Two Madmen” by Israeli-Mediterranean pop star Omar Adam. Inbal performed “The Winner Takes it All” by ABBA. After the jury, public, and broadcaster committees weighed in, Michael Ben David advanced directly to the final.

Duel 2: Eli Huli vs. Sapir Saban

[Click the artists’ names to view their performances.]

Eli performed “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts, a song most will be familiar with as the theme song of the US sitcom Friends. Sapir performed “Lonely”, a ballad originally performed by legendary Israeli-Mediterranean singer Zohar Argov. After the jury, public, and broadcaster committees weighed in, Eli Huli advanced directly to the final.

Duel 3: Inbal Bibi vs. Sapir Saban

[Click the artists’ names to view their performances.]

As the losers of the first two duels, Inbal and Sabir performed “Marionette” and “Breaking My Own Walls”, the songs that had previously been selected as their potential Eurovision entries. After the scores were counted, Inbal Bibi moved on the final round.

Final Truel: Michael Ben David vs. Eli Huli vs. Inbal Bibi

[Click the artists’ names to view their performances.]

In the final round, the remaining two finalists performed the song that was previously selected as their potential Eurovision entry. Michael Ben David danced his heart out on “I.M.” and Eli Huli crooned his way through the judges’ favorite “Blinded Dreamers”.

After the jury weighed in with their points, Eli Huli had a four point lead over Michael Ben David, with Inbal Bibi close behind. And after a tense reveal of the televoting results, Michael Ben David was announced as the winner! Watch his winning performance of “I.M.” below:

Eli Huli ultimately placed second, with Inbal Bibi remaining in third.

This is a big step up in the world for Michael Ben David. The 25-year-old talent graduated from a school for the performing arts at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and had been working as a waiter before he auditioned for this season of X Factor Israel. Cut to seven months later, and he just booked his ticket to Turin!

Were #YOU rooting for Michael Ben David to win? Personally, I’ve been Team Michael since before it was cool. I’m a trendsetter like that. Sound off in the comments below, in our forum, on social media @ESCUnited, or on our official Discord.

Oh, and one last moment of gratitude to @stateofesc2020 for helping all of us make sense of this prolonged process! 

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