Instead, Hamas accused Amman of involvement in a regional plot to force the elected Hamas-led Palestinian government into changing its political position, Aljazeera reported on Tuesday.

 

Jordan earlier said a group of Hamas fighters arrested last week were close to staging attacks inside the kingdom on orders from the Palestinian group's Syrian-based leadership".

 

Security interrogations with the detained suspects had proven they received instructions to execute operations from leaders of Hamas and specifically one of the military officials of Hamas currently based in Syria," Nasser Joudeh, the government spokesman, told Reuters on Tuesday.

 

"They (the attacks) had reached a stage of implementation targeting installations and people in Jordan," he said.

 

Joudeh, who did not disclose how many Hamas activists were arrested last week, said one of the detainees had led security officials to a hideout near the border with Syria in northern Jordan where large quantities of weapons and rocket launchers were found.

 

Jordan said last week that rocket launchers and explosives seized from a Hamas arms cache in the kingdom had been smuggled from Syria, where Hamas's exiled leadership is based.

 

Abbas threat

 

Separately, on Tuesday Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Palestinian foreign minister, decribed the reported threat by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to dismiss the Hamas-led government as "the wishes of those for whom the Palestinians' electoral choice had shaken the earth under their feet".

 

Any such action will drag the Palestinian areas into utter chaos, al-Zahar warned. 

 

Hamas' Abu Zuhra says Jordan's
accusations are 'totally untrue'

US ally Jordan has over the years accused Damascus-based radical Palestinian groups opposed to Middle East peacemaking of plotting attacks inside the kingdom or trying to smuggle arms to launch attacks against Israel from its territory.

 

A security official told Reuters that although there was concern that the activists and the smuggled weapons had come from Syria, there was no proof that Damascus condoned such activities.

 

Hamas leaders have had a rocky relationship over the years with Amman, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has strong security cooperation with its western neighbour.

 

Jordanian officials privately support US-led efforts to isolate the Hamas government diplomatically and financially unless it embraces Middle East peacemaking.

 

Background

 

Hamas has a large following in refugee camps across Jordan, a country that is host to the largest number of Palestinian refugees outside the West Bank and Gaza.

 

In other news, some 55 Palestinians from Iraq currently stranded at the Jordanian border have called on the Jordanian authorities to permit them to enter al-Ruwaishid camp inside Jordan, Aljazeera reported on Tuesday.

 

Aljazeera's correspondent quoted a spokesman for the refugees as saying that their living conditions are miserable, and the children in particular were being affected by them.

 

Iraqi border guards have threatened to push the Palestinians in the desert if they do not return to their homes, Aljazeera said.