Hundreds of artists sign petition against Eurovision 2019


Other qualifiers from the first semi final include Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, San Marino, and Slovenia.

Israel's hosting of this year's version of the popular European music competition has drawn pro-Palestinian boycott calls to protest against the country's policies.

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.

"At a certain point, there was a takeover - apparently by Hamas - of our digital broadcast", KAN chief Eldad Koblenz said Wednesday.

At least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis were killed before a ceasefire agreement was signed between Gaza and Israel. But an EBU spokesman said that, last year, a total of 186 million people watched both semi-finals and the finals.

Israel is hosting the Eurovision contest after local singer Netta Barzilai won previous year with her song "Toy". Tel Aviv is hosting the major European event, bringing musicians from all over the continent, the United States, and Australia, as well as thousands of tourists to the Israeli capital, from 14 to 18 May, when the finals will take place. Security has been tight in Tel Aviv amid fears that activists may seek to disrupt the competition.

Pop diva Madonna landed in Israel late Tuesday evening ahead of her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on May 18. The second semi-final is on Thursday.

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The Like A Prayer singer 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 protesters are concerned that whole of Israel needs to be seen as an occupying force and it should be boycotted in its entirety", he added.

The BDS - modelled after the South African anti-apartheid movement - was formed in 2005 by more than 200 Palestinian civil society organisations, urging non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with worldwide law.

Israel has been accused of building settlements on occupied Palestinian lands that are considered illegal under global law.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign said on Tuesday that hundreds of artists have signed a petition against Eurovision 2019, which is being held in Israel, has reported.

Reports last month claimed Madonna was set to make $1million (£775,000) for her performance.