"Everybody is saying exactly the same thing," Rice said amid meetings with other diplomats on Hamas' startling election victory last week and its impact on Middle East peacemaking efforts. "There has got to be a peaceful road ahead. ... You cannot be on one hand dedicated to peace and on the other dedicated to violence. Those two things are irreconcilable."
Rice was meeting other members of the so-called Quartet of would-be Mideast peacemakers Monday. The group, which includes the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, is already on record as saying "there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state."
"To say a Palestinian government must be committed to peace with Israel is at the core," Rice said. "You have to recognize Israel's right to exist."
Rice has ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a government led by Hamas, which has carried out terrorist attacks against Israel and does not recognize its right to exist.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday called on Hamas to recognize the state of Israel, renounce violence and disarm. While EU officials are barred from contact with the Islamic militant group, which it considers a terrorist organization, the EU statement made clear that the EU would keep diplomatic channels open with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is not a member of Hamas.
On Sunday, Rice said humanitarian help to the Palestinians, many of whom are poor and unemployed, is likely on a "case-by-case basis." She indicated that the administration would follow through on aid promised to the current, U.S.-backed Palestinian government led by Abbas.
In Gaza meanwhile, a Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, called on the international community to continue funding the Palestinian Authority.
"We assure you that all the revenues will be spent on salaries, daily life and infrastructure," he said at a news conference, addressing international concerns that aid would be used to fund violence.
Rice also will meet separately with other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to discuss Iran and an upcoming vote on whether to refer the Tehran government to the council over its nuclear program.
Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, won a decisive majority in last week's Palestinian legislative elections. The group, which has political and militant wings, will now take a large role in governing the Palestinians. The makeup of the new government is not clear.
The Islamic militants, who carried out dozens of suicide bombings and seek Israel's destruction, have said they oppose peace talks and will not disarm. Israel refuses to deal with Hamas.
Hamas' unexpected electoral victory raised questions about the future of the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, and how the United States can influence such efforts or help impoverished Palestinians.
"We're going to review all of our assistance programs, but the bedrock principle here is we can't have funding for an organization that holds those views just because it is in government," Rice said.
The U.S., Europe and Israel list Hamas as a terrorist organization; various Arab governments have contact with the group.
"It is important that Hamas now will have to confront the implications of its covenant if it wishes to govern," Rice said. "That becomes a primary consideration in anything that we do."
It is not clear that all European nations or the United Nations would cut off aid, let alone Arab governments that do not recognize Israel.
"I just think that anyone who is devoted to trying to bring Middle East peace between two states has an obligation now to make sure that anybody that is going to be supported is going to have that same" goal, Rice said.
U.S. aid is a small part of the $1.6 billion annual budget of the Palestinian Authority.
About $1 billion comes from overseas donors — more than half of that from European nations. The rest is a mix of funds from international donor agencies, Arab and Asian governments, and the U.S., which gave $70 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority last year.
Separately, the U.S. spent $225 million for humanitarian projects through the U.S. Agency for International Development last year, and gave $88 million for refugee assistance.
Finally it is becoming clear to me.
Democracy is only useful when it is in one's best interest.
Could be in America's best interest, or the EU's best interest or even Canada's best interest, but if it is not in one's best interest, then democracy is not wanted.