THE UK's Eurovision song contest entry Olly Alexander has dismissed calls to boycott the event over Israel's inclusion.

He joined entrants from the UK, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Lithuania and Finland in a statement responding to pressure from activists to pull out of the event.

The statement said: "We want to begin by acknowledging the privilege of taking part in Eurovision.

"In light of the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and particularly in Gaza, and in Israel, we do not feel comfortable being silent.

"It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages.

"We stand united against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and Islamophobia."

It then adds: "We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections.

"We feel it is our duty to create and uphold this space, with a strong hope that it will inspire greater compassion and empathy."

But the response has been branded "patronising" with a "colonial attitude" by activist groups.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said that by participating, the "contestants would be complicit in art washing these crimes".

It wrote: "Feigning symbolic gestures of support while dismissing the call of the oppressed reflects a patronising and colonial attitude on the part of the contestants that is familiar to Palestinians, and many oppressed communities globally."

Elsewhere, more than 450 queer artists, musicians and writers previously signed a letter calling for Alexander to boycott the competition after a number of European politicians called for Israel to be excluded from this year’s Eurovision as war rages on in Gaza.

Queers for Palestine wrote in the letter: “We share the vision of queer joy and abundance you’ve offered through your music, and share your belief in collective liberation for all. In this spirit, we ask you to heed the Palestinian call to withdraw from Eurovision... There can be no party with a state committing apartheid and genocide.” 

READ MORE: Eurovision: European politicians call for Israel to be disqualified

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Alexander also responded directly to Queers for Palestine, and later shared his response in a statement: "I wholeheartedly support action being taken to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the return of all hostages and the safety and security of all civilians in Palestine and Israel.

"I know some people will choose to boycott this year's Eurovision and I understand and respect their decision."

He added: "As a participant I've taken a lot of time to deliberate over what to do and the options available to me. It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn't bring us any closer to our shared goal.

"Instead, I've been speaking with some of the other EV contestants and we've decided that by taking part we can use our platform to come together and call for peace."

Israel previously put pressure on the BBC to drop singer Alexander as the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entrant after he signed a letter describing Israel as an “apartheid regime”.

The 33-year-old put his name to a letter written by an LGBT+ action group in October which described Israel’s actions in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict as “a genocide”.