Hamas on Tuesday denied allegations by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Islamic movement allowed al-Qaeda to infiltrate the Gaza Strip. In an interview Monday with Italy's RAI TV, Abbas charged that "thanks to the support of Hamas, al-Qaeda is entering Gaza."
On his part, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Abbas of trying to whip up sentiment against Hamas. "Hamas has no link to al-Qaeda," Abu Zuhri said, according to the AP. Abbas of Fatah "is trying to mislead international opinion to win support for his demand to deploy international forces in Gaza."
Al-Qaeda's presence in the Palestinian territories has been a subject of intense speculation since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Hamas leaders have suggested they would steer clear of al-Qaeda, in line with the movement's long-standing position to stay focused on the conflict with Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published Tuesday that he does not believe it is possible for Hamas and Fatah to reconcile, after the Islamic movement seized control in the Gaza Strip last month. Olmert told Spain's leading newspaper, El Pais, he does not foresee any reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas of Fatah.
"I personally do not believe in a reconciliation between Hamas and Abu Mazen," Olmert was quoted as saying. "Abu Mazen himself has been a witness of how they were preparing to kill Palestinians with such brutality that I've never seen in my life."