Hamas represents a large part of Palestinian people: Italy

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

ROME (AP) - The Italian foreign minister warned the West against isolating Hamas, saying there is a risk of pushing the Islamic militant movement into the arms of al-Qaeda.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement claimed that thanks to Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June, al-Qaeda is entering the coastal strip. Hamas denied the accusation. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema warned against isolating Hamas, which came to political power in last year's parliamentary election and later formed a unity government with Fatah. After last month's violent takeover in Gaza, Abbas expelled Hamas from the government and formed an emergency cabinet in the West Bank. D'Alema described Hamas, which has been shunned by the West, as ""a real power that represents a large part of the Palestinian people,"" according to Corriere della Sera and other reports on Tuesday. D'Alema was speaking Monday evening in Tuscany. ""Hamas has committed terrorist acts but it is also a movement of the people. For the West not to recognize a government that was democratically elected ... it is not a very good lesson in democracy,"" he said. ""It is in the interest of the international community to avoid pushing such movements in the arms of al-Qaeda,"" said D'Alema, who planned to meet Wednesday in Rome with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been appointed Middle East peace envoy