The White House said Saturday it will watch closely to see how the militant group Hamas responds to calls for it to moderate its hardline stance concerning Israel now that it has assumed a majority role in the Palestinian parliament.

"Our position on Hamas has been quite clear on what they need to do. They must disarm, renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist," said National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones. "We'll still continue to watch closely and wait and see. We'll see what approach they take as they govern."

With a Hamas-dominated parliament sworn in Saturday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas urged the new legislature not to endanger gains achieved over the years.

He said the Palestinian government and presidency remain committed to the peace process undertaken with Israel and the international community.

Although Hamas leaders dismissed Abbas' entreaties, they have also signaled some willingness to compromise. But since its surprising victory in Palestinian elections, Hamas has refused publicly to set aside its call for the destruction of Israel.