Asian countries call on Hamas to renounce violence

Asian governments called on Hamas to renounce violence and work toward peace Friday after its victory in Palestinian elections, while hardline Muslim groups hailed the result as a reward for decades of armed resistance against Israel. "This is great," said Ismail Yusanto from Hizbut Tahrir, a hardline group that campaigns for an Islamic state in Indonesia. "The Palestinians have spoken and they want someone to continue the struggle against Israel," he said, adding their was no need for the group to disarm.

Hamas, which has refused to renounce violence and calls for the destruction of Israel, took nearly two-thirds of the 132 parliamentary seats in Thursday's elections, threatening the Middle East peace process and putting Western powers in a difficult position.

The group is regard as a terrorist organization by the EU and the United States. Australia and Japan, both key U.S. allies in Asia, immediately called on Hamas to give up violence.

"Hamas has been democratically elected and that fact has to be accepted," Australian Prime Minister John Howard said. "But Hamas in return has got to accept that you can't simultaneously behave like a democratically elected government and support terrorism."

New Zealand echoed those comments, as did Japan. "Japan strongly expects that the Palestinian Authority, following the successful implementation of the elections, will make efforts for peace in accordance with the roadmap, such as to control the extremists," Foreign Minister Taro Aso said in a statement.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, joined other Islamic nations in calling on Western nations and Isreal to both accept the result. At they same time, they encouraged the militant group to engage with its longtime enemy, reports the AP. I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team