Ma'an News Agency
February 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Robert Serry, the UN special envoy to the Middle East peace process, hinted on Thursday that the international community would pressure Israel to cede parts of the occupied West Bank to Palestinian Authority control.

Serry said the International Quartet, made up of the UN, EU, US and Russia, will express support for PA demands on the Israeli government to transfer Areas B and of the West Bank C into A, under full Palestinian control, on the road to establishing statehood.

Speaking during a visit to the West Bank city of Hebron, which is divided between PA security autonomy and Israeli military control, Serry told Ma'an, "if Israel is serious about the peace process, and the two-state solution, and wants to see an end to the occupation, we should back Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's successful program."

Following separate meetings with Hebron Governor Husein Al-Araj and Mayor Khaled Al-Aseili, the UN envoy added that real progress should come "outside of the political arena. We should see progress on the ground, a full halt to settlement construction, a full halt to Israeli violations in Area A, because Fayyad is doing a great job restoring security in these areas."

Serry said encouraging Fayyad's program would help "roll back the occupation, which is what the international community is looking forward to," vowing that the Quartet would move forward on implementing humanitarian and economic infrastructure projects.

"I know the situation is difficult in Hebron, but I've been impressed by what they've accomplished, what both the governor and the mayor have achieved, despite the difficult circumstances they face," he added. "We are still concerned about Israeli security violations in Hebron, particularly violence and harassment carried out against residents by settlers."

For his part, Governor Al-Araj urged the UN and international community to urgently intervene by supporting Palestinians politically, and by pressuring the Israeli government to implement its commitments, namely reigning in settlements and the separation wall.

He also referred to ongoing disputes between Palestinians and Israel's army and Civil Administration, which have recently prevented several infrastructure projects in the southern West Bank city.

"The Israelis are placing obstacles in front of the Palestinian economy by preventing building in industrial zones in Tarqumia, areas that would help create thousands of jobs, and by obstructing investment and building in Area C, where investment would support the economy and development forward by creating industrial zones and projects to treat sewage water," Al-Araj said.


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