Senior Hamas official in Gaza Mahmoud al-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.

Asked whether Hamas supports Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's September initiative to seek statehood in the United Nations, Zahar said, "First of all, we don't trust what is called the international community."

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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.

Although, the senior Hamas official said his group has no hopes for Palestinian statehood derived from the United Nations, he said that if the UN does follow through with Abbas' initiative, "we will discuss that and declare our state."

Listing instances of Palestinian disappointment in recent years, Zahar said, "[former US president George W.] Bush promised the Palestinians an independent state ... [US President Barack] Obama came in order to give the Palestinians just the basic demand - to stop the settlements - and he failed."

Questioned as to whether Hamas is willing to accept the existence of the State of Israel, Zahar countered: "The question is whether Israel is ready to accept the Palestinian state. Is Israel ready to accept the right of the Palestinian people to come back to their homeland?"

He quickly backed away from the premise of the questioning, however, saying, "these imaginary questions will not be answered."

Considering that the Hamas leadership is largely based in Damascus, Klein asked the senior Hamas official for his prediction on the survivability of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which is facing a growing revolutionary uprising and movement of dissent calling for reforms.

That issue, Zahar declared, "will be decided by the Syrian people." He described Hamas' position in Arab countries that host it as "guests," he added that if the Syrian people decide to bring about regime change "by agreement or by force, we are not interfering. Half a million Palestinian people live in Syria," he said, "we will not interfere."

Discussing the recently-announced reconciliation agreement between Hamas and rival Fatah, Zahar addressed the details of future security arrangements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Hamas, he said, will continue to control security affairs in the Strip - and Fatah in the West Bank - but the yet-to-be-formed interim government that includes both Fatah and Hamas, "will lead the policy in the West Bank and in Gaza."

In the first year of the agreement, he added, "security affairs will [remain as they are] in the status quo. But security policy will be controlled by the government."

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