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TEL AVIV - Pop icon Madonna kicked off her 2012 world tour on Thursday with a call for peace from a Tel Aviv stage.
"I chose to start my world tour in Israel for a very specific and important reason," she said, to applause and cheers from the capacity crowd.
"As you know, the Middle East and all the conflict that occurs here and have been occurring for thousands of years, they have to stop," she added. "You can't be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world."
"So start today -- every single one of you, if there is peace here in the Middle East, there can be peace in the whole world."
The Tel Aviv show, in support of the MDNA album, launched the 53-year-old Queen of Pop's ninth world tour and her first since her "Sticky and Sweet" outing in 2008/2009.
From Israel, she is to move on to Abu Dhabi and then to Europe and the Americas before ending in early 2013 in Australia, where she has not performed in more than 20 years.
A day ahead of the performance, the diminutive diva briefly met with members of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum and handed them 600 tickets.
"We spoke to her for a few minutes and we asked if she would say anything about peace," Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now, a member of the forum, told AFP, saying it was the alliance's first-ever contact with the petite singer, who has largely steered clear of getting involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"She told us: 'I will say much more than a word about it.'"
In Thursday's show she paid tribute to groups seeking to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"There are some very important NGOs which are representing both Palestine and Israel over here," she told the audience.
"It's easy to say: 'I want peace in the world,' but it's another thing to do it. If we can all rise above our egos and our titles and the names of our countries and our religions - and treat everyone around us with dignity and respect, then we are on the road to peace," she said.
"No conflict can ever be resolved by causing pain to another human being."