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The man expected to be the next British prime minister, Gordon Brown, is appointing the United Kingdom's former ambassador to Israel, Simon McDonald as his chief foreign policy adviser.

Political sources in Jerusalem expressed their satisfaction with the candidate, describing McDonald as "a friend to Israel."

McDonald, 46, served as the British ambassador to Israel viv from 2003 to 2006. The Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem regard him with great esteem.

He had been considered one of the most influential foreign envoys posted to Israel, and one well-connected to Israeli decision-makers.

In his 25 years of service in the Foreign Office, McDonald has served in several Arab countries as well. For the past year, he has been the head of Iraq policy at the Foreign Office.

The Financial Times, which reported the choice of McDonald, added that his move will be warmly welcomed by the Foreign Office, amid fears that Brown might have drawn all his international policy advisers from outside the ministry.

The paper quoted Foreign Office sources as saying thatunder the outgoing prime minister, Tony Blair, the Foreign Office has sometimes felt marginalized. However, the appointment of McDonald signals it will remain at the center of foreign policy-making once the Brown premiership starts.

Political sources in Jerusalem were equally jubilant about the appointment. "It is a signal that Britain will continue its positive policy toward Israel," they said.