Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel posed together for a selfie during a charity event for the 63rd annual Miss Universe Beauty Pageant. What started as a seemingly innocent selfie is now causing an international uproar.

Officially, Israel and Lebanon are still at war, though the two countries have not engaged in any large-scale hostilities with one another on their shared border since 2006. Traveling between the two countries by both Israeli and Lebanese citizens is currently prohibited.

In the selfie, Miss Lebanon Saly Greige and Miss Israel Doran Matalon are seen posing with Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan. Not long after Matalon posted the pic on her Instagram, Greige received wide-scale criticism from her fellow countrymen, many of whom admonished her for posing with a citizen of an enemy state. Some are even demanding that Greige be stripped of her title.

In light of the backlash, Greige has issued a statement on her Instagram. According to her, the selfie was supposed to consist of Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, and herself. However, Miss Israel photobombed the pic as it was being taken. Greige has even stated that she was especially careful about avoiding Miss Israel. She has since posted the original pic with Matalon cropped out.

Matalon has also weighed in on the issue and made the following statement regarding the backlash against Greige:

“Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country.”

The Miss Universe Organization has also released a statement expressing its disappointment that an innocent photo of four beautiful women has been interpreted in a negative light.

This also isn’t the first time an international beauty pageant has caused controversy. In 2002, Miss Lebanon Christina Sawaya withdrew from the competition after refusing to share a stage with Miss Israel due to the conflicts between Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

It’s certainly a shame that a photo between Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel would cause so much animosity. It highlights the heightened tensions that continue to play out between Israel and the Arab world.

[photo credit: archangel12]