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British Ambassador to Israel Simon McDonald stressed on Thursday that there was no change in British policy towards contact with Hamas. "We still believe in the three conditions outlined by the Quartet," said McDonald. "Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, give up violence and abide by existing agreements."
He said that until that happened Britain would not be in contact with the Hamas leadership.
Sources from the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday that they were satisfied with the clarifications out of the British Embassy, saying that there was still a "consensus regarding our position" towards Hamas.
McDonald went on to say that the recent terror attack and subsequent justification by Hamas that it was act of self defense, was "dreadful" and "completely unacceptable," echoing Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement in parliament on Wednesday.
"I hope very much that members of Hamas realize that those who kill innocent people in this way are wicked and irresponsible," added the British ambassador.
Earlier on Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had claimed that since Hamas now headed the PA government Britain wanted to maintain normal relations with them "as we did with the previous government."
During his visit to Riddyah, Saudi Arabia, Straw added that he would demand in any case that Hamas meet the requirements of the international community - to stop terror, recognize Israel, and honor existing agreements between Israel and the PA - but softened his stance by saying that he would be satisfied with the group "accepting" the existence of the Jewish state, and would not insist that Hamas make a formal statement recognizing Israel.
Straw arrived Tuesday in Saudi Arabia to take part in a conference devoted to bilateral relations.
Straw will attend the "Two Kingdoms' Conference," which begins Wednesday, and is expected to deliver a speech on relations between Britain and Saudi Arabia as well as his government's view on bringing peace to the Middle East.
Straw met Crown Prince Sultan on arrival, and was expected to meet King Abdullah during his visit.