Australia and Iceland qualify for Eurovision final but Finland snubbed

Comment Lights camera action Eurovision

Activists hold placards calling for the boycott of Eurovision along Israel's controversial separation barrier, which divides the West Bank from Jerusalem, during the 7th International Palestine Marathon in the biblical town of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 22 March 2019.

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

Pop superstar Madonna on Tuesday explained her decision to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel this week, saying that she will always speak up to defend human rights and hopes to see "a new path toward peace".

Madonna has been rumoured to be performing at the song contest, and in April, concert promoter Live Nation Israel wrote in a Facebook post that Madonna would indeed perform two songs.

"My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict", said the legendary performer, whose string of hits in the 1980s and 90s included "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin".

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.

But Eurovision said the EBU was still negotiating with the artist.

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"We are in a situation now that is a bit odd", he said.

She is expected to perform two songs during the show's interval, including one track from her new Madame X album.

Sand did not say what issues were delaying the signing of a contract, but confirmed that negotiations were in a "final stage".

Kan played down the hack, noting that the evening ended without further incident as Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia made it through to Saturday's finals. "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.

The contest-which previous year drew 189 million viewers-will be co-produced by the European Broadcasting Union and Israeli public broadcaster KAN.

Israel is hosting the contest after Netta Barzilai won the 2018 event in Lisbon, Portugal, with her song Toy, a Me Too anthem featuring freakish chicken noises. "If Madonna performs in Israel, crossing the worldwide picket line, she will be helping to normalise this brutality".

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