Fayyad: PA will declare independent state in August 2011

Palestinian Authority PM tells Italian newspaper: "The youngest olive trees have deeper roots than the largest Israeli settlement."

311_fayyad picks olives and flags (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
311_fayyad picks olives and flags
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the PA will declare an independent Palestinian state in 2011, while picking olives with a reporter from Italian daily Corriere Della Sera, according to an interview published on Thursday.
"The deadline is next summer, when the Israeli occupation of the West Bank must end," Fayyad said. "In 2011, we will celebrate 66 years of the United Nations and the United Nations will celebrate the birth of our nation."
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Fayyad added that the Palestinians "need to build national institutions in the West Bank and prepare for an independent Palestinian state."
"The people of Gaza must be involved in our national project," Fayyad explained. "There are gaps between us, it's true, but the real gap is the wall that closes off the Strip. Next week, I will try to enter Gaza," he added.
Fayyad took the Corriere Della Sera reporter to pick olives, something that he says he does every day. He also lamented the settlers' "poisoning" of the trees, saying olive trees are "the symbol of our right to be on this earth."
"In Palestine we have 15 million" olive trees, Fayyad said. "We can not accept that even one is destroyed. The youngest of these trees have deeper roots than the largest Israeli settlement."
Fayyad also expressed anger at the end of the settlement building moratorium.
"Look at those houses up there in Shiloh," he said, "they are illegal not because I say so, but in international law. Israel considers UN resolutions as mere recommendations."
The Palestinian prime minister said that he will give Israel "one more year of grace...but these colonies can no longer be there. They are illegal everywhere; here and Jerusalem."
"If it is true that Israel is interested in peace, it must block" the settlers, Fayyad said.
On Tuesday, Fayyad went olive-picking with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry. Serry expressed his support for an declaration of Palestinian statehood by August 2011.