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Chinese Ambassador Chen Young Long was summoned Thursday to the Foreign Ministry in protest over his nation's plans to host the Hamas-led Palestinian government's foreign minister later this month, the Foreign Ministry said.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials told Chen that the invitation to Beijing provides legitimization for the Hamas government, refutes the international community's stance on Hamas as a terror organization, and severely damages Israeli-Chinese relations, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting Israel urged China to rescind the invitation. China had announced Wednesday that it would host the PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar along with 22 ministers from Arab states and entities at a meeting on China-Arab relations.
Last month the Zahar told the Chinese state news agency Xinhua that he would like to look at a map of the Middle East and not see Israel there.
The Foreign Ministry also protested meetings that Israel-based Chinese officials held recently with Hamas officials in Gaza, saying that such diplomacy by officials residing in Israel was beyond the pale, the ministry said.
The Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv was not available for comment Thursday.
China's outreach to Arab states comes at a time when its trade with the Arab world has grown tenfold in the past decade, to over $51 billion last year, with oil imports accounting for 40 percent of the total .