Government officials on Monday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for accepting an Iranian invitation to attend a conference of non-aligned countries in Tehran at the end of next month.

“Abbas has to get off the fence and decide whom he is with,” one official said. “He cannot on the one hand say he believes in peace and reconciliation, and on the other hand embrace Hamas and the Iranian leadership.”

The official said Abbas could not tell Israel he was a partner for peace “if he is a partner with these extreme elements.”

Even in the Arab world, the official said, people are cautious about going to Iran.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullah extended the conference invitation at a meeting with Abbas in Amman. Abbas said he would attend the summit, and sent his greetings to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the news agency reported.

One diplomatic official in Jerusalem cautioned against reading too much into Abbas’s acceptance of the invitation.

“This is not a bilateral meeting,” the official said. “It is a conference of the non-aligned bloc that will include countries with whom Israel has good ties, such as India and Brazil.”

The official said that the question should not be as much why Abbas is attending, but rather why the Non- Aligned Movement is holding a meeting in Iran in the first place.

Last month, at a UN-sponsored anti-drug conference in Tehran, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi exploited the event to launch a virulently anti-Semitic tirade.

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