Miss Lebanon in this year's Miss Universe pageant, Saly Greige, has responded to social-media criticism after appearing in a photo with Miss Israel Doron Matalon in Miami, where the pageant takes place Sunday. Lebanon and Israel have engaged in border clashes and other hostilities since their 34-day war in 2006.
"The truth behind the photo [is that] since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me," Greige, 25, wrote on Instagram Saturday with a cropped version of the photo that Matalon had posted on Jan. 11. "I was having a photo with Miss Japan [and] Miss Slovenia [when] suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media."
Matalon, 21, responded Sunday, writing on Instagram, "It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, [in which] only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime [it is] that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country."
Miss Universe officials have not publicly responded.
The Miss Universe pageant will air live Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC.