It looks like the Miss Earth pageant will be the first beauty contest to recognize Palestine as an independent country.
The change in delegations was confirmed by Astrud Schuck, the brand manager for Miss Earth, after first reported by Xnet, the lifestyle section of newspaper Ynet.
The annual international beauty pageant, which promotes environmental awareness and will take place in the Philippines at the end of November, plans on including a contestant from Palestine in its 2015 pageant.
The delegate representing Palestine will have the title Miss Earth Palestine 2015, said Schuck.
Politics played a major role in the delegate addition to the beauty contest.
Israel participated in the Miss Earth pageant six times since the event was founded in 2001, sending Miss Israel winners from 2003-2009. During those years, LaIsha (For the Woman), the Israeli women’s magazine that operates the Miss Israel franchise, also owned the Miss Earth Israel franchise.
In 2011, the Miss Earth franchise was taken over by Lilac, the Arab women’s magazine, and began sending Arab-Israeli beauty contest winners to the Miss Earth pageant.
“The Israeli beauty contests aren’t geared toward the Arab girl,” said Lilac editor Yara Mashour in an interview with Xnet. “There’s only been one Arab beauty queen and few contestants from the Arab sector. I tried to bring Arab girls to the Israeli beauty contests and they always refused me. It could that the tastes are different.”
Mashour was also turned down by the Miss World and Miss Universe when she asked to send Palestinian delegates.
The Miss Earth pageant, however, was more open-minded, particularly following the symbolic vote in Britain’s Parliament to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state.
The decision to include a Palestinian delegate was made too late to include a delegate for this year’s Miss Earth pageant, according to Xnet. The upcoming event will include 89 contestants from all over the world, competing for this year’s crown.
The winner of Miss Earth, considered part of the Big Four international beauty pageants — Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International are the other three — becomes the spokesperson for the Miss Earth Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme.
The last two Miss Earth contestants from Israel, Huda Naccache (2011) and Maria Abboud (2013), were Arab-Israelis with dual citizenship.
Naccache was the first Arab model to appear on the cover of Lilac in a bikini. This year’s Miss Earth Israel contestant is Tala Safadi.