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UN envoy urges PA to declare state within year

Slams Israel over alleged olive vandalism

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 UN envoy urges PA to declare state within year

UN Special Middle East peace envoy Robert H. Serry accompanied Palestinian Authority prime minister Salaam Fayyad on a visit to a West Bank village on Tuesday, where he encouraged the PA to declare an independent state and equated alleged settler vandalism against olive trees to Palestinian terrorism. "All international players are now in agreement that the Palestinians are ready for statehood at any point in the near future," said Serry. "We are in the homestretch of your [Fayyad's] agenda to reach that point by August next year and you have our full support." His comments endorsing Fayyad’s plan to build a de facto state by next year came after PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas reiterated on Monday that he will give serious consideration to the idea of going directly to the UN Security Council to request international recognition for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood if negotiations toward that goal are not showing any signs of progress. Meantime, Serry has drawn sharp criticism from Israeli officials for comparing occasional settler vandalism to Palestinian olive orchards with Palestinian terrorism. Israeli officials called the assertions "absurd" and "reprehensible," after Serry made the comments while attending an olive harvest event with Fayyad, calling the olive tree a significant Palestinian nationalist “symbol of a people's unyielding attachment to their homeland.” He insisted that “Israel must combat violence and terror by Israelis, as is expected of the Palestinian Authority in the case of violence and terror by Palestinians.”


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