Here are snippets from the world press commenting on Hamas and its electoral victory.
The Associated Press:
The group (Hamas), which opposes the existence of Israel and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, is expected to lead the next Palestinian government, hurting the chances for a peace deal.
Columnist Jonathan Steele in the Guardian (UK):
Above all, Europe should not get hung up on the wrong issues, like armed resistance and the "war on terror". Murdering a Palestinian politician by a long-range attack that is bound also to kill innocent civilians is morally and legally no better than a suicide bomb on a bus. Hamas's refusal to give formal recognition of Israel's right to exist should also not be seen by Europe as an urgent problem.
Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by an Islamic Palestinian state.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK):
...though Hamas retains much of its spine-chilling rhetoric towards Israel and remains committed to regaining lost Palestinian land by force, a new pragmatism is entering its outlook.
The New York Times:
(Hamas leader Khalid Maashal) insisted that "resistance is a legitimate right that we will practice and protect," and he defended attacks on Israeli civilians, which included many suicide bombings until a cease-fire nearly a year ago...
(The Hamas Charter) calls for the elimination of Israel and Jews from Islamic holy land and portrays the Jews as evil, citing an anti-Semitic version of history going back to the Crusades. It also includes a reference to the noted czarist forgery of a plan for world domination, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and condemnation of supposedly Zionist organizations like the Rotary Club and the Masons...
No Hamas leader or candidate is on record as sanctioning a permanent recognition of Israel's right to exist side by side with an independent Palestinian state, which has been the cornerstone assumption of peace negotiations since the Oslo accords in 1993...
...As Mr. Zahar (prominent Hamas leader in Gaza) also said, "We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay, nor his ownership of any inch of land."
Russia's Moskovskiy Komsomolets:
"Hamas is terrorism. Terrorism is war...It is obvious that the emerging situation will bring peace to no-one: neither Palestinians nor their neighbours."
Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
"First we should wait and see how the forming of a government in Ramallah proceeds, and what kind of signals a new government under the influence of Hamas sends out... even results which we do not really want to see need to be accepted."
The Washington Post:
The Bush administration has spent nearly $500 million in the past year to bolster the Palestinian Authority and the ruling Fatah party, which was nonetheless crushed by Hamas at the polls. Against the advice of Israeli officials, the administration had pushed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold the elections without delay, believing that the voting would strengthen his hand in disarming militia groups. Instead, the plan backfired, and an organization that has claimed credit for dozens of suicide bombings -- some resulting in the deaths of Americans -- is poised to take power.
Hamas' win comes amid political uncertainty in Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke this month and is in a coma. Olmert has assumed Sharon's powers until elections March 28.
Hamas has an extensive network of charities and social services. Its candidates swept to wins in West Bank municipal elections last month.
Hamas' parliamentary campaign focused on ridding the Palestinian Authority of Fatah corruption and boosting living standards. Its platform made no mention of suicide bombers or the destruction of Israel, but the group's charter calls for Israel to be made an Islamic state for Palestinians.