(Editor's note: President Bush is expected to comment on the Palestinian election results at a 10:15 a.m. news conference.)
(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that the Palestinians have clearly voted for change -- but she said the United States believes "their aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged."
Rice said such aspirations can be met only with a "two-state solution, which requires a renunciation of violence and turning away from terrorism and accepting the right of Israel to exist and the disarmament of militias."
Rice repeated that Hamas cannot have "one foot in politics and the other in terror." And she said the U.S. position on Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization, "has not changed."
Rice said she's spoken to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who, she noted, was elected by the Palestinian people on a platform of peace.
She asked all parties to respect the Palestinian constitutional process so it can unfold "in an atmosphere of calm and security."
Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament in Wednesday's election, which means it will be the dominant force in shaping the next government.
Hamas openly advocates the destruction of Israel and it refuses to disarm, a major stumbling block for the stalled peace process.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Americans have to recognize that democracy "Palestinian style" or "Iraqi style" isn't going to be the same as it is in the United States.
Nelson, speaking on Fox News Thursday morning, also noted that the White House and Congress have "leverage" in the form of money sent annually to the Palestinians.
"I think that's going to be a very delicate subject," Nelson said, indicating that the U.S. should expect to "get something for its investment."
"I don't think we ought to underplay the leverage that we have," Nelson said.