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Lebanon's Miss Earth 2018 bet stripped of title after photo with Miss Israel

MANILA, Philippines – Lebanon's candidate to the Miss Earth 2018 pageant has been stripped of her title after a photo of her and her Miss Israel counterpart was posted online.

In a tweet, Ofir Gendelman, spokesperson of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Salwa Akar, 26, was dethroned after her photo with Israel's Dana Zerik was posted.

"Miss Lebanon Salwa Akar who participates in the #MissEarth2018 pageant had her title revoked today in Lebanon b/c she 'dared' to take this photo w/ Miss Israel.

"Miss Israel Daza Zreik is an Israeli-Arab, who proudly represents her country. Lebanese apartheid must be condemned," Gendelman tweeted.

Miss Lebanon Salwa Akar who participates in the #MissEarth2018 pageant had her title revoked today in Lebanon b/c she "dared" to take this photo w/ Miss Israel. Miss Israel Daza Zreik is an Israeli-Arab, who proudly represents her country. Lebanese apartheid must be condemned. pic.twitter.com/eP0t9V557c — Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) October 16, 2018

The organizers of the Miss Earth Lebanon pageant issued a statement, saying they "categorically rejected the relationship with Israel."

On Wednesday, October 17, Akar took to Facebook saying: "I don’t need a 'title' to be myself.. I, the Soul am peace.. and I will finish what I started with or without your support and love .. God is always beside me, he knows me more than anyone.. and he knows what’s in my heart . Om Shanti"

This is not the first time that photos of candidates from Israel and Lebanon together became controversial. At the Miss Universe pageant in Miami in 2015, Lebanon's Saly Greige found herself in hot water after a photo of her and Miss Israel Doron Matalon was posted online.

Greige said that she had been avoiding having photos taken with Matalon. Greige said Matalon "jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media." (READ: Valerie Weigmann: Stop judging Miss Lebanon over selfie)

Israel and Lebanon are technically still at war with each other. A cease-fire is in place. Israel fought a bloody war with Hezbollah in 2006, which killed Lebanese civilians and Israeli soldiers.  – Rappler.com