The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah movement accused their rivals Hamas of providing aid to Al Qaeda to establish a base of operations in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Abbas’ statement came during an interview with the London based Al-Hayat news paper published Wednesday.

The Palestinian president also said in an interview published in Arabic, that Palestinian Parliamentary and Presidential elections could take place if the Hamas movement relinquishes control of the Gaza strip.

The Hamas movement won the 2006 Palestinian elections, leading to internationally imposed sanctions. Subsequent infighting between the Abbas-led Fatah and Hamas left the latter controlling Gaza, and Fatah controlling the West Bank.

Abbas told Al-Hayat,’ I think Al-Qaeda does exist in Gaza, and Hamas control over the region facilitated that.’

Israel has previously accused the Hamas movement of being part of Al Qaeda, accusations Hamas denies.

Ayman al-Zawahri, the Al-Qaeda second in command, released a video late last year in which he accused Hamas of serving U.S. interests in the region.

Israeli claims that Al-Qaeda fighters managed to enter the Gaza strip in January when the Gazan borders with Egypt were breached to allow supplies to reach Gaza, following Israel’s year-long siege of the coastal region. Egypt closed the borders one week week later.