Deputy D-G Raphael Schutz said China’s invitation to the PA’s Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar grants legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist government.

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Chinese Ambassador Chen Yonglong was summoned today (Thursday, 18 May 2006) to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to receive the Government of Israel’s strong protest at China’s policy toward Hamas.

Deputy Director-General Raphael Schutz discussed with Chen his government’s invitation to the Palestinian Authority’s Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar to attend a conference in China, as well as the Chinese envoy’s recent meetings with Zahar in Gaza.

Schutz said that the invitation grants legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist government, contradicts the conditions set by the international community, and harms Israeli-Chinese relations.

He noted further that, just a month ago, Zahar had declared in an interview to the official Chinese News Agency that he would act to bring about the end of the existence of the State of Israel. Schutz made it clear that if Zahar’s visit takes place, this would damage China’s position as a responsible actor in the Middle East.

Schutz told the ambassador that China could still change its decision in the matter and that it would be a positive thing for the future of the Middle East for it to do so.

With regard to the envoy’s meetings in Gaza, Schutz indicated that Israel could not accept a situation wherein diplomats accredited to it and who reside in its territory maintain contacts with terrorist elements. Israel expects the Chinese government, as do other governments, to act accordingly.

In conclusion, Schutz gave Ambassador Chen a diplomatic protocol containing the remarks made in the meeting.