China hosting Palestinian, Israeli leaders this week in sign of desire for Middle East role

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China is hosting the leaders of both Palestine and Israel this week in a sign of its desire for a larger role in the Middle East.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was welcomed by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins a visit to the eastern financial hub of Shanghai on the same day. Netanyahu is due in Beijing on Wednesday following Abbas' departure a day earlier.

China has traditionally had a low profile in Middle East diplomacy, but in recent years has tried to play a more active role in the region. It has sought stable relations with both sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, while strongly opposing international intervention in Syria.