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Ex-miss Iraq calls for peace on Israel visit after selfie scandal

© AFP | A picture taken on November 21, 2017, shows a "selfie" posted on Instagram by Sarah Idan -- "Miss Iraq USA 2016" and "Miss Iraq Universe 2017" -- with Adar Gandelsman, "Miss Universe Israel 2017"

JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

A former Miss Iraq whose selfie with her Israeli counterpart triggered criticism called Wednesday for coexistence and regional peace in a speech during her first visit to the Jewish state.

Baghdad-born Sarah Idan, 28, had posted the picture on her Instagram account with her newly made friend, Israel's Adar Gandelsman, during the 2017 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.

The outcry in her native Iraq, which does not recognise Israel and is formally at war with it, compelled Idan's family to relocate to the United States, where Sarah had been living.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem led by a global Jewish advocacy organisation, Idan called for peace between Iraq and Israel.

"I travelled thousands of miles and put my life in a risk not just to express how so many of us are tired of this endless war between our countries," she said in English, quoted by the American Jewish Committee Global Forum, where she spoke.

Her visit to Israel was aimed at calling for a "new method" to achieve peace, which seeks "reasoning, mutual compromise and... unity", she said, rather than "emphasising our disagreements and implanting hatred".

Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Idan said she believed both nations "have a right to co-exist in this beautiful land", adding she hoped to see Jews and Arabs travelling the region freely and fearlessly.

She told the AJC conference she hoped for "a new chapter for Israel and Palestine, with less blood and more amity".

Idan, who arrived in Israel on Saturday, met up with Gandelsman ahead of the conference, posting pictures and videos on her social media accounts.

A report on Israel's Channel 2 television showed Idan touring Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, where she was warmly welcomed by locals, including Israeli Jews of Arab origin, who spoke with her in Arabic.

© 2018 AFP