Miss Lebanon Saly Greige and Miss Israel Doron Matalon, both competing for the title of Miss Universe, have found themselves at the center of a controversy after a photo surfaced of the two side by side.

Miss Universe 2015 Selfie Causes Controversy

Greige, 25, and Matalon, 21, appear in the photo posted by Matalon on Instagram alongside Miss Slovenia Urska Bracko and Miss Japan Keiko Tsuji. Once Miss Israel shared the photo on social media Jan. 11, people were shocked to see Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel looking friendly, as the neighboring countries have been engaged in war for years.

Miss Lebanon: Victim Of Photobomb?

Lebanese critics called for Greige to be stripped of her Miss Lebanon title for socializing with Matalon, causing Greige to go on the offensive. In response to the controversy, Greige shared an edited version of the photo that cropped out Miss Israel, and wrote that Miss Israel photobombed her and her friends. Greige insisted that she had kept her distance from Miss Israel throughout the competition, and that Miss Israel forced herself into the photo. “The truth behind the photo, since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautions to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me. I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media,” Greige wrote on Instagram.  

Miss Israel Responds

Meanwhile, Matalon posted a screen-grab of a headline about the controversy and wrote about her disappointment at the conflict created by a simple photo, saying, “It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad. 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.”

Matalon later responded to Greige’s ‘photobombing’ story in an interview with Today, saying that she had hoped the two could be friendly despite their origins. “I hope for change, and I hope for peace between us, and, even just for three weeks, just between me and her. That’s it, we need to remember that we represent the country and the people, not the government and the political issues,” Matalon said.

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Greige refused to comment.

Miss Universe airs Sunday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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