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(photo credit: AP)
Qatar and Mauritania suspended contacts with Israel on Friday, joining Bolivia and Venezuela as countries that have severed diplomatic ties to protest Operation Cast Lead.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, announced the suspension in ties with Israel at an Arab summit in Doha that was boycotted by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The gathering was attended only by the heads of state of Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Qatar and Algeria - and from the more minor Arab League members, the Comoros Islands and Mauritania.
Also attending were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and other leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and representatives from nine other Arab and African nations.
Qatar does not have full diplomatic relations with Israel but had maintained lower-level ties, allowing an Israeli trade mission to operate and hosting Israeli leaders at conferences.
Hamad, who is also Qatar's foreign minister, said the Israeli trade mission in the country will have about a week to leave.
"We will tell the Israeli [trade mission] office that their presence here is unwanted until the circumstances improve and there is a better chance for peace," he told reporters.
Mauritania, however, had full relations with Israel. Earlier this month, the Western African nation recalled its ambassador from Israel amid street protests over Gaza.
Israel had no immediate response to the severing of ties, with one Foreign Ministry spokesman saying only that Israel was aware of what was said at the Doha conference.