Asharq Al-Awsat, London- Hamas has to take hard decisions if it is to adjust to reality following its decisive victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al Awsat on Monday, Rice indicated that the US administration would not deal with Hamas “until it sees it is to coexist with the Palestinian peace commitments and recognize the right of Israel to exist”. She expressed hope that Hamas would recognize reality and deal with it “in a way that does not harm the interests of the Palestinians.”
Rice was in London to attend a Middle East strategy session with other members of the Quartet, which includes the EU, Russia and the UN.
Defending US pressures for reform in the Arab world, the US Secretary of State said, “Some people say that America seeks to arrange the political situation in a way that suits it. But, in reality, we are committed to democracy as a principle regardless of who wins in elections.” She pointed out that continued openness will allow moderate movements to emerge and grow and emphasized that election winners are obliged to guarantee the continuation of the democratic process that brought them to power.
Rice denied that the US administration will cut off aid to the Palestinians but indicated “When the matter is related to backing a government run by a movement classified as terrorist, the US administration cannot offer its support.”
She revealed that the international community expected Hamas to “commit itself to non-violence and to Palestinian obligations that have exited for a long time regarding the peace process.”
Describing the recent visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahamdinejad to Syria as “telling,” where he held meetings with the Syrian leadership, representatives of Palestinian groups opposed to the peace process and Hezbollah, Rice criticized Tehran and Damascus. “Syria is not only a problem for Iraq but also a problem for Lebanon and the Palestinian territories”. The great powers were in agreement not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power, she added.