Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema warned the West against isolating Hamas, saying there was a risk of pushing the movement into the arms of al-Qaida, according to Corriere della Sera and other reports on Tuesday.
Last week, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement claimed that thanks to Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June, al-Qaida is entering the coastal strip. Hamas denied the accusation.
D'Alema described Hamas, which has been shunned by the West, as "a real power that represents a large part of the Palestinian people," D'Alema said 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.