U.S. President George W. Bush said Thursday that "peace is never dead" in the Middle East and that the results of the Palestinian elections should serve as a wake up call for the Palestinian authority.
"The election should open the eyes of the old guard in the Palestinian territories," the president said at a midmorning news conference at the White House.
Bush said the U.S. position on Hamas, the terrorist Palestinian organization that has reportedly made significant gains in parliamentary elections, has not changed.
"If your platform is the destruction of Israel, you're not a partner in peace," Bush said. "The U.S. does not support parties that want to destroy our ally Israel."
Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Hamas' victory reflects the Palestinian people’s wish for change.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Rice said the United States remains optimistic that the Palestinian people want peace and prosperity.
But the Secretary of State warned there could be no Middle East peace process if Hamas refused to recognize Israel's right to exist.
"You can't have a peace process if you're not committed to the right of your partner to exist," she told the World Economic Forum, speaking by video link.
'Our position on Hamas has not changed'
"And I think you will hear the international community speak clearly on exactly those principles over the next day. There will be some difficult choices before those in whom the Palestinian people are placing their trust."
She was speaking after unofficial election results on Thursday showed a shock victory for Hamas over Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.
Rice said the election had been peaceful and fair, with very high turnout. But she said the U.S. position on Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization, was unchanged.
"As we have said, you cannot have one foot in politics and the other in terror. Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed."
Rice added, "Anyone who wants to govern the Palestinian people and do so with the support of the international community has got to be committed to a two-state solution, must be committed to the right of Israel to exist.
"But if there is to be a future that can answer the aspirations for peace of the Palestinian people ... then it is going to have to be a future that renounces violence and terrorism."
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to the report