Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak says the militant Islamic group Hamas must recognize Israel if it wants to form a Palestinian government.

Mr. Mubarak spoke in an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. It is the first time that Egypt has laid down conditions for Hamas to form a government in the Palestinian territories.

At the same time, Egypt's president asked Israel to be patient. He said he was sure Hamas wants to live in peace and has no plans to establish a terrorist state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas scored an overwhelming victory in Palestinian elections in January, trouncing the ruling Fatah party. Fatah has indicated that it prefers not to participate in a Hamas-led government. Egypt has been trying to mediate between Hamas and Fatah.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.