Palestinian leader Abbas to visit Iran

Israeli officials have expressed concern at the decision by the Palestinian president to accept an invitation to Tehran.

Mahmoud Abbas is to visit Iran at the end of August for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. He was asked during a meeting in Jordan over the weekend to join the conference by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who invited him on behalf of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"It reflects our appreciation of this movement, which always supported the Palestinian position and the Palestinian cause," said the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. "We cannot be absent from the summit of the non-aligned countries."

Iran and the Palestinian Authority have had mixed relations in the past, not least because of Iran's support for Fatah's rivals, the terrorist group Hamas. The Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, went to Iran earlier this year for a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 revolution.

Mr Abdollahian called for Hamas and Fatah to reconcile in order " to reach common ground on resistance in the face of threats by the Zionist entity".

But an Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that it was time for Abbas to get off the fence and choose a partner.

"He cannot on the one hand say he believes in peace and reconciliation, and on the other hand embrace Hamas and the Iranian leadership," he said.

Last updated: 10:59am, July 9 2012