Middle East

Israeli restaurant bill: Chinese tourists paid $4,393

World's largest hummus dish outside the Abu Ghosh restaurant, on the outskirts of West Jerusalem (2010) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Abu Ghosh restaurant set the world record for the largest dish of hummus in 2010

A bill of 16,500 shekels ($4,393; £3,285) handed to a group of eight Chinese tourists in a restaurant near Jerusalem has sparked an online row.

It all started when the head of Israel's association of tour operators posted a photo of the bill, suggesting the visitors may have been "suckered".

But the restaurant's owners contest this, and give a different version of how the meal unfolded.

They say the group had a gourmet meal and the venue was closed to host them.

The bill, from the popular Abu Ghosh restaurant on the outskirts of West Jerusalem, allegedly included 5,900 shekels in alcohol, 4,000 shekels for the use of the private room and 3,150 shekels for the main course.

On top of what was consumed by the group, there was a service charge of 1,500 shekels.

In a post on Facebook (in Hebrew) with a picture of the bill, Yossi Fatael, chairman of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association, said the group's tourist agent confirmed they had paid the bill.

"There may be a billion Chinese, but they may not all be suckers," he said.

"This is how we are destroying our own budding potential of the Chinese market in Israel."

Growing market

But Jawdat Ibrahim, one of Abu Ghosh's owners, disputed this.

He said, also on Facebook (in Hebrew), the group had a gourmet meal that lasted for eight hours, with special desserts, specially ordered alcoholic drinks and artists - and that the restaurant was closed to the public to host them.

He also said the eight had insisted on paying the service charge. The post had pictures of what he said was the specially produced decoration to host the group.

The Chinese visitors have not been identified.

Some 6,900 Chinese tourists visited Israel in July, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. In the same month, there were 57,000 tourists from the US and 31,600 from France.

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