Straw in Storm on Hamas Meet; Israeli Outrage at Terror Contact Talk

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Byline: By JAMES LYONS

BRITAIN was accused of aiding Palestinian extremists yesterday as foreign secretary Jack Straw began a trip to the Middle East.

Diplomats met politicians from the Hamas terror group in the Occupied Territories, Mr Straw confirmed.

Shuli Davidovich, spokeswomen at the Israeli Embassy in London, said: 'Any dialogue will empower the extremists and not the moderates on the Palestinian Authority.'

Hamas had claimed responsibility for a rocket attack only this morning, she said.

'As long as Hamas continued to go through the route or terrorism we can't perceive them as a political organisation.'

The row comes at the start of a two-day visit which will see Mr Straw meet Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The foreign secretary acknowledged that the recent election of Hamas members to Palestinian Authority posed a 'dilemma'. The group is among a number of Palestinian terror organisations proscribed by Mr Straw himself when he was Home Secretary.

However, he said: 'We have a diplomatic job to do as others do, and our diplomats in the occupied territories - as anywhere else in the world - see part of their job, indeed part of their job is, to have contact with elected representatives' In the occupied territories it is de rigeur, it is required, that if a diplomat of whatever level goes into a town they go and talk to the mayor. …