The UN Security Council told Hamas on Friday that a future Palestinian government must recognize Israel and commit itself to a negotiated settlement of the Mideast conflict culminating in two independent states living side-by-side in peace. The council commented for the first time on the Islamic group's surprise victory in the January 25 Palestinian elections in a presidential statement that was delayed because of Qatar's demand for more criticism of Israel. It congratulated the Palestinian people "on an electoral process that was free, fair and secure" and commended all parties involved in preparing and conduction the election. The council welcomed the commitment by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah Party was defeated in the election, to the roadmap to peace drafted by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. It also welcomed his commitment to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and previous agreements between the two parties. "The Security Council expresses its view that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to the aforementioned instruments and principles," the council said in the statement read at a formal meeting by US Ambassador John Bolton, the current council president. Leaders from Hamas and the Fatah party have met twice in recent days to discuss the formation of a new government following Hamas' landslide victory. Hamas has said it would like Fatah to join in a coalition, but senior Fatah leaders said they preferred to stay in the opposition. The Security Council reaffirmed "its profound attachment to the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security" and reminded both parties of their obligations under the roadmap. It underlined the need for the Palestinian Authority "to prevent terrorist attacks and dismantle the infrastructure of terror." Without naming Israel, it also called for a halt to settlement expansion and expressed concern about the route of the security barrier Israel is building to keep out Palestinian attackers.