UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Negotiations Robert H. Serry expressed the UN's support for the declaration of an independent Palestinian state to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad while the two picked olives together on Tuesday near the West Bank village of Turmus'ayyeh, close to the Israeli settlement of Shiloh.

"All international players are now in agreement that the Palestinians are ready for statehood at any point in the near future," said Perry. He continued, "We are in the homestretch of your [Fayyad's] agenda to reach that point by August next year and you have our full support."

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