Hundreds of artists sign petition against Eurovision 2019

13 2019 shows an anti-occupation billboard by Israeli NGO Breaking The Silence erected on a street in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv

Madonna vows to sing at Eurovision, despite calls for boycott

Eurovision's executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand told the BBC: 'The European Broadcasting Union has never confirmed Madonna as an act.

For those who didn't wake up at the crack of dawn to see KMH do her thing, she wowed the crowd with a gravity-defying performance of her aptly titled Eurovision song "Zero Gravity" and impressed both the professional juries and the TV audience enough to fly her way into the grand final.

"People have spoken on behalf of the EBU, for many months now, without it being authorised", Mr Sand said.

"I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be", the singer said in a statement to Reuters.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from the rally, said: "For the activists here, it [the protest] coincides with the first anniversary of the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and the border protest that took place in Gaza on the same day when more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire". "I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this bad cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace", she said. "We are in a situation now that is a bit unusual". "We have an artist that would love to participate on the stage, but without the contract, it can't happen".

Earlier this week Madonna confirmed she will bring her Madame X theatre tour to the United Kingdom next year.

In response to Madonna's statement, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has responded, calling Eurovision an "artwashing" of "Israel's brutal oppression of Palestinians".

Those who win through to Saturday's final will join host Israel and the so-called "big five" of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - all of whom are entitled to skip the elimination rounds.

The second semi-final is on Thursday.

Israel is hosting the Eurovision contest after local singer Netta Barzilai won past year with her song "Toy". Security has been tight in Tel Aviv amid fears that activists may seek to disrupt the competition. After all songs have been performed, viewers in each country can then vote for their favourites, excluding the song from their own nation, with points awarded by ranking.

Madonna, who has studied Kabbalah with the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, included Israel in her 2009 and 2012 world tours, and in 2004 took on the Hebrew name "Esther", although she has not formally converted to Judaism.

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