The following was provided directly by the United Nations News Centre
A top United Nations envoy today said he was alarmed at recent reports that Israeli settlers have repeatedly attacked Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, destroying hundreds of olive trees at the height of the harvest season.
“These acts are reprehensible and I call on the Government of Israel to bring those responsible to justice,” said the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry.
“Israel must live up to its commitments under international law to protect Palestinians and their property in the occupied territory so that the olive harvest – a crucial component of Palestinian livelihoods and the Palestinian economy – can proceed unhindered and in peace,” he said.
In a briefing to the Security Council last month, Mr. Serry had warned that the lack of progress between Israelis and Palestinians on the political track and the continuing conflict and occupation was putting at risk the viability of the two-State solution.
He added that the Palestinian Authority (PA) in particular, was experiencing the consequences of this risk in the form of a severe financial and economic crisis, and stressed that international donors and the Israeli Government should do more to alleviate the PA’s burden and ensure its fiscal viability in the short and medium term.
The Israelis and the Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010 after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Negotiators from both sides began preparatory talks at the start of January in Amman, under the facilitation of King Abdullah II of Jordan and that country’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, with a view to a resumption of direct talks.