The Foreign Office has flatly denied Hamas claims that Britain is one of five European Union countries which have held secret talks with the militant Palestinian organisation in recent months.
According to an Associated Press report on Wednesday night, Hamas foreign affairs representative Osama Hamdan said that it had discussed its position on the Middle East process with European officials. Although he declined to name the countries involved, other Hamas figures in Gaza specified Britain, France and Holland.
But an FCO spokesman told the JC that the claim was simply not true.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said that the EU was "meticulous in acting according to the Quartet's decisions, and Hamas is on the terror list".
The official Quartet (the United Nations, the EU, Russia and the USA) line is that Hamas can only be a partner for talks if it recognises Israel, renounces violence and accepts Palestinian agreements with Israel.
But Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy director of Hamas's political bureau, told the American Jewish newspaper The Forward last month that it would "not recognise Israel as a state" and that it would regard any agreements with Israel only as a ceasefire, not as a peace treaty.