In its first reaction to the unexpected victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Wednesday’s Palestinian parliamentary elections, the European Union said on Thursday that 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 adding that the European foreign ministers will discuss Hamas victory in their coming meeting.
 
On the other hand, U.S. President George W. Bush related U.S. – Palestinian relations to Hamas’ recognition of Israel and to renounce its position for calling for the destruction of Israel.
 
"And so you’re getting a sense of how I’m going to deal with Hamas if they end up in positions of responsibility. And the answer is: Not until you renounce your desire to destroy Israel will we deal with you," Bush said Wednesday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal after the strong showing of Hamas in the poll.
 
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other members of the Quartet will meet Monday in London, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
 
Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will not accept to allow Hamas to be in the Palestinian Government.
 
Prior to the reports about Hamas winning a majority, its leader in Gaza Strip Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not exclude negotiations with Israel as an option, however, Ismael Haniyah a prominent leader of Hamas said the movement will not lay down its weapons after the poll.
 
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas media spokesperson in Gaza reported that the movement will not stop its military activities, and will conduct wide reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
 
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei has submitted his resignation to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and said that Hamas is to form a new cabinet.
 
Khaled Mash’al chair told Abbas over the phone that Hamas is interested in a political partnership.
 
With victory looming, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said the group wanted to work with Fatah in a "political partnership".
 
But he said Hamas would not hold peace talks with Israel now.  "Negotiations with Israel is not on our agenda," Al-Masri said, adding that "recognizing Israel is not on the agenda either now."
 
 
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