First semi-final of Eurovision 2019 to be held on 14 May

The billboard put up alongside Tel Aviv's busiest highway by an Israeli anti-occupation group is a play on the 2019 Eurovision slogan

When it was announced last month that Madonna would be performing at Eurovision in Tel Aviv, a number of groups immediately urged her to boycott as a part of the BDS movement.

In her first comment on her decision to sing at the event, Madonna said she was a supporter of all human rights.

"We are in a situation now that is a bit unusual", said Eurovision's executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, at a news conference in Tel Aviv.

Israel's webcast of the Eurovision Song Contest was hacked with animated images of explosions in the host city, Tel Aviv, amid growing calls by pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the event. However, Sylvan Adams, the Israeli-Canadian billionaire who will pay Madonna's fees, claims the artist is already en route to Israel for her performance.

However, the Eurovision organizers said the 60-year-old's participation was not yet signed and sealed, and that the final contract for her participation had yet to be finalized.

She says she prays for "a new path toward peace".

Madonna has recently released a series of singles in the lead up to Madame X, her 14th album, out June 14.

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However, while fans of the Medellin singer had thought it was a done deal, Eurovision's executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand has thrown things into doubt.

Along with Sweden's Darude and Iceland's Hatari, she is favourite to move through to the grand final on Saturday.

The Queen of Pop confirmed that she will make the guest appearance at the annual competition in Tel Aviv on Saturday as scheduled, saying that while the violence and deaths break her heart, she will not bow to political pressures.

This year's contest is being held in Israel after the country's entry - Netta's song Toy - won the 2018 edition.

In January, British figures including Dame Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Mike Leigh, Maxine Peake and the band Wolf Alice signed a letter calling on the BBC to cancel coverage of the 2019 song contest.

The hack comes amid a violent flare up of tensions between Israel and Palestinians which began on May 4, when hundreds of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, further escalating tensions in the region.

Other artists have responded to the call for boycott. "Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations - and we can not ignore Israel's systematic violation of Palestinian human rights", they wrote. "If Madonna performs in Israel, crossing the global picket line, she will be helping to normalise this brutality".

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