Senior Hamas official in Gaza Mahmoud  Zahar said his organization is requesting that the prime minister of the new Palestinian unity government come from Gaza and not from the West Bank, Israel Radio reported on Monday.

Zahar said that a native of Gaza should be the new prime minister for the sake of balance, as both the president of the Palestinian Authority and the chairman of the Palestinian Parliament are from the West Bank. He added that the prime minister does not necessarily have to be a member of Hamas, but rather he should be agreed upon by both factions.

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Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in Cairo on Sunday night for talks with Egyptian officials on the unity deal between Hamas and Fatah.

On the eve of the visit, Hamas reiterated its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Mashaal and PA President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to sign the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Wednesday.

Representatives of several Palestinian factions have also been invited to attend the signing ceremony in Cairo.

Mashaal’s deputy, Musa Abu Marzouk, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Hamas would not recognize Israel’s right to exist, despite the agreement to form a Palestinian unity government.

“Hamas has a principled position regarding this issue,” Marzouk said. “We won’t recognize the Zionist entity. Our rights are still usurped and it’s illogical for us to recognize the Zionist entity because that would be at the expense of our stolen lands and our people in the refugee camps.”

Marzouk said that Hamas did not see any connection between recognizing Israel’s right to exist and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Most of the Arab countries don’t recognize Israel, and yet they continue to deal with the international community,” he said. “And many European countries did not recognize Israel until recently. Therefore the international community should not look into this issue.”

Meanwhile, Zahar on Sunday said his organization has little faith in the “so called” international community to confer statehood on the Palestinian people.

In an interview with Jerusalem-based investigative reporter and radio host Aaron Klein on WABC Radio, Zahar called the very suggestion that statehood could be handed to Palestinians by a world body an “imaginary question.” By entertaining the question, he said, "you are [giving] the impression that something can be achieved.” Hamas, he added, has serious doubts about the very line of argument.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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