Israel Protests China's Invitation to Hamas' Foreign Minister

China set to host FM Mahmoud al-Zahar, 22 other Arab representatives, for forum on Sino-Arab relations.

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Israel's Foreign Ministry called in the Chinese ambassador Thursday to deliver a protest against Beijing's invitation to the foreign minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority to attend a conference on China-Arab relations there.

Israel, along with the United States and the European Union, lists the militant Islamic Hamas as a terrorist organization and demands that it renounce violence and recognize Israel.

"Today we summoned the Chinese ambassador to Israel, Chen Young Long, and extended an official protest of the position by the Chinese government to invite Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar to China," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

"We also protested the fact that Chinese diplomats continue to meet with Hamas officials in Gaza," Regev said. "We stated ... that these acts are giving legitimacy to a terrorist government ... and they hurt the bilateral relationship between Israel and China."

China said Wednesday that it would host Zahar, considered a Hamas hard-liner, along with 22 ministers from Arab states and entities, at the meeting in Beijing later this month.

Regev said that at Thursday's meeting Israeli officials urged China to revoke the invitation.

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