Madonna speaks out about Eurovision controversy: “My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region”

The pop star will perform at the annual competition that will take place in Israel

Madonna has spoken about performing at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest following calls from protesters for her to pull out.

The annual competition is due to be held in Tel Aviv on this Saturday (May 18) after Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the 2018 contest with the song ‘Toy’.

Madonna spoke to Reuters in response to the controversy of her participation in the event. “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,” she said.

“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,” she continued. “I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”

Many artists, including Wolf Alice, Brian Eno, and The Knife have called for a boycott of the 2019 contest, arguing “there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying [the Palestinian people] their basic rights.

“We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a ‘non-divisive’ location for the 2019 Eurovision,” they wrote in an open letter. “It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record… Injustice divides while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites.”

The conflict between Palestine and Israel has seen a number of artists including Lana Del Rey and Lorde cancel scheduled performances in the country following pressure from protesters. However, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Radiohead have both refused to pull out of shows in Israel in recent years with Thom Yorke arguing that “playing a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.”