Israeli beauty wants to enjoy Miss World reign, postpone army

But Abargil's fans are definitely more secular than Orthodox.

"They are just so happy in Israel. We just won the Eurovision and I think they are so happy that Israel is now on the map," she told reporters Friday.

Abargil beat 83 other contestants in the pageant, which was held in the Seychelles Islands, off the coast of eastern Africa.

The Netanya native, wearing a white evening gown, burst into tears when she was chosen over the two other finalists, Miss France and Miss Malaysia.

At a news conference, Abargil said she wanted to enjoy the next year.

"I not sure exactly what I'm going to be doing but I just want to have fun and do charity work," she said.

When asked if she might try to use her new title to further her country's peace process, Abargil declined to respond.

"I don't want to talk about politics…I don't think I have to be involved in this peace and everything,'' she said.

But her year as beauty queen may be restricted somewhat when she faces other obligations back home — namely an April induction date for compulsory army service.

She hopes the service can be postponed so she can first fulfill her Miss World duties.

Abargil's father said he had been confident that she would triumph.

"The whole time, I had a feeling my daughter would win, while she herself was betting that the contestant from India would," he said.

Abargil, who models and performs classical ballet, jazz and modern dance, expressed interest in pursuing a career in communications.

In addition to the award of roughly $80,000, Abargil will also have a year of public appearances and work for charitable causes.

Abargil's path to the spotlight began when she was 17 and placed second in a talent search, which led to a modeling contract. In March, she was named Miss Israel, qualifying her for the Miss World pageant.

Abargil entered the Miss Israel competition by chance.

Her aunt, Rachel Reshef, told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot, that "half a year before the competition, an ad was published in the magazine inviting candidates to apply. I signed Linor up without telling her. Two months later they called her. At first she refused, but was finally convinced to participate. The rest is history."

This was the first year for the revamped contest, which started in 1951. The traditional swimsuit-with-high-heels parade was cut from the stage show, but the audience was shown lengthy video footage of the girls playing beach games in skimpy bikinis.

Abargil is the second Israeli to hold a world beauty pageant title. Rina Mor won the Miss Universe crown in 1976.