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Netherlands wins Eurovision as Madonna dancers spark controversy

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Netherlands singer Duncan Laurence after his Eurovision victory in Tel-Aviv. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The Netherlands have won the 2019 Eurovision song contest at a show in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.


The extravaganza passed off without too much political controversy, though two incidents temporarily drew attention away from the songs and toward Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Local media showed images of two of Madonna's dancers side-by-side with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs during her performance.

Icelandic group Hatari meanwhile displayed scarfs with Palestinian flags when results were being announced.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, condemned both displays.

Referring to Madonna's dancers, it said "this element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals".

"The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this."

After performances by all 26 finalists, Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands took the prize with the stirring power ballad "Arcade". Italy finished second and Russia third.

Controversial culture minister slams incident

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev on Sunday criticised the display of Palestinian flags during the Eurovision song contest finals in Tel Aviv.

"It was an error," Regev, a right-wing minister known for provocative stances, told journalists before a cabinet meeting.

"Politics and a cultural event should not be mixed, with all due respect to Madonna."

Regev criticised Israeli public broadcaster KAN for not having prevented the flags from being shown, though it was unclear what could have been done.