WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS: US President George W. Bush expressed yesterday that the United States will not deal with any Palestinian political party that articulates the destruction of Israel.
No Palestinian party can be "partner in peace" with armed wing, Bush told a news conference in Washington. "The election results were a sign that Palestinians were not happy with the status quo," he said.
The US president also said he would like Palestinian President Abbas to stay in power.
Bush said on Wednesday that he would not deal with Hamas unless it accepted Israel's existence.
"A political party, in order to be viable, is one that professes peace, in my judgment, in order that it will keep the peace," Bush told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday the US position on Hamas as a terrorist organization has not changed despite its stunning victory in Palestinian elections.
"You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," Rice told the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland, via a telephone hookup to the State Department. "Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed."
"Palestinian people have apparently voted for change, but we believe their aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged," she said. Rice said those goals will require renunciation of violence and terrorism and acceptance of Israel's right to exist side-by-side with a Palestinian state.
"You can't have a peace process if you're not committed to the right of your partner to exist," she said.
Rice is due to meet in London on Monday with UN, Russian and European leaders as the "Quartet" of nations evaluates the results and tries to decide how to proceed with peacemaking efforts.
The European Commission said it would work with any Palestinian Government that used peaceful means.
"It is clear that Hamas has really got a very large proportion of the vote," European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told a European Parliament committee before official results were announced. "What is important is that we state we are happy to work with any government if that government is prepared to work by peaceful means," she said.
The 25-nation European Union is the biggest provider of aid to the Palestinian Authority, amounting to 500 million euros (US$614.9 million) last year.
Israeli interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian Government that does not "fight terror" and disarm miliants as stipulated by a US-backed peace "roadmap."
Despite signals this week that it might be open to indirect talks with Israel, Hamas said it would not change its charter or give up its guns but would consider joining a coalition government with Fatah.
"We do not see it necessary to squeeze ourselves and our people into this dark corner, which will achieve nothing," a Hamas official said, referring to peace talks.
Voting in Wednesday's election was orderly despite weeks of armed chaos. More than 400 candidates ran locally in the first parliamentary elections since 1996. About 900 foreign observers, led by former US President Jimmy Carter, were present.
The turnout was 78 per cent of the 1.3 million voters.
Source: China Daily