Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) condemned on Saturday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's remarks about creating a new Middle East.
"Rice's remarks are aiming at striking against the armed resistance in both Lebanon and the Palestinian territories and then reinforcing the Israeli domination over the region," said Haneya.
Earlier, Rice told a news conference in Washington, "What we're seeing here ... are the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one."
Calling on the U.S. administration to "respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people" to elect Hamas into power, Haneya also urged for an immediate "halt of the Israeli military aggressions" against both the Palestinian and the Lebanese people.
"If the 'new Middle East' is based on ending the resistance and preparing the region for Israel, this will certainly be rejected by all nations in the region," Haneya told reporters in Gaza.
But he also said that a 'new Middle East' would be welcomed "if it is intended to end the Israeli occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty and with Jerusalem as its capital."
Haneya also said that the Palestinian people and the Hamas-led Palestinian government welcomed "the release of Palestinian prisoners, the return of refugees and the halt of Israel's extensive aggressions."
Haneya also strongly criticized the U.S. administration for being "biased" in its policies regarding the Middle East.
"The U.S. has to reconsider its stance and has to respect the rules of the democratic game it has called and asked the people of the region to abide by," Haneya said.
The 43-year-old Palestinian premier also said that countries in the area would never surrender and that the Palestinian people would never surrender under outside pressure.
Rice is planned to start a visit to the Middle East region on Sunday in a bid to calm the situation in Lebanon where Israel has pressed ahead a massive offensive following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanon's Hezbollah guerillas.
On another front, Israel continued a weeks-long air and ground operation in the Gaza Strip in a bid to rescue another Israeli soldier kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen and halt Palestinian rocket attacks.
The U.S. has labelled Hamas as a terrorist group, leading a boycott against the Hamas-led Palestinian government.