World leaders, uneasy at the prospect of a Hamas-led Palestinian government, immediately exerted pressure on the Islamic militants Thursday to recognise Israel and renounce violence as a precondition for support.
While they welcomed the smooth running of the Palestinian legislative elections, the militants' stunning showing also unsettled many and threw Middle East peacemaking into turmoil.
"Hamas won," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. "Hamas is surely not a democratic movement. Its ideas are surely not humanistic ideas. What do we do now?" he asked.
European governments and the United States presented a united front -- insisting that Hamas renounce violence and recognise Israel's right to exist -- and planned meetings to coordinate their response.
A senior European Parliament lawmaker, Elmar Brok, warned of a possible cutoff of European Union aid for the Palestinians if Hamas does not change its policies.
"You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice adding, that for the United States, Hamas is still a terrorist organisation.
"The whole of the international community has the responsibility to accept the outcome of any fair and democratic election," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
"But in this case Hamas has a clear responsibility to understand that with democracy goes a rejection of violence," he added.