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Rice Tells Hamas to Choose Terror or Politics


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged the Palestinian militant group Hamas to choose between terror and politics as it prepares to take control of the Palestinian government. Ms. Rice spoke to reporters in Cairo after talks with the Egyptian foreign minister.

Condoleeza Rice said the international community expects Hamas to meet certain conditions, including renouncing violence and recognizing Israel's right to exist.

"If the new Palestinian government led by Hamas is going to be able to meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a peaceful life, for a better life, for a life in which there is economic development, it goes without saying that you cannot have one foot in the camp of terror and the other foot in the camp of politics. You have to renounce violence." Ms. Rice said.

The secretary of state and her Egyptian counterpart spoke to reporters in Cairo not long after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas officially appointed Ismail Haniya of Hamas as prime minister and gave him five weeks to form a government.

The State Department has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Both Rice and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Aboul Gheit criticized the Israeli decision to cut off tax payments to the Palestinian authority once Hamas takes control.

He urged the United States to continue supporting the Palestinian authority, and to give Hamas time to develop as a political party.

"It is only a matter of time, and we are sure the Palestinians will recognize the requirements of the situation as they stand today, the Roadmap, the need for a political peaceful settlement amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians," Mr. Aboul Gheit said. "The need to see the two states, living side by side in secure and recognized boundaries for both."

The Palestinian situation was not the only issue on the table. Rice and Aboul Gheit also discussed Iraq, and the Iranian nuclear program. The secretary of state said the two had what she called a candid discussion about Egyptian domestic political reform, an issue that has previously strained relations between the two longtime allies.

Rice is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday, and will then travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.