Olive branch: PA to replace 750,000 settler-destroyed olive trees across the West Bank
Caretaker Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Saturday that the Palestinian Authority will compensate Palestinians whose olive trees have been damaged by Israeli settler attacks by planting 750,000 olive trees across the West Bank.
Hamdallah stressed that the Palestinian Authority is working to limit the obstacles imposed by the Israeli occupation on Palestinian economic development and livelihoods.
Israeli soldiers and settlers have uprooted around 4,000 olive trees across the West Bank since the beginning of the year, Hamdallah added.
Hamdallah made the comments during the 13th annual Olive Harvest Festival in Manger Square in Bethlehem on Saturday, a yearly celebration of the Palestinian Olive Harvest organized by the Bethlehem Peace Center.
During his speech, Hamdallah highlighted the importance of the agricultural sector for job creation and economic development across the West Bank, but warned against the threats posed by Israeli military and settler attacks on Palestinian farmers.
Hamdallah also called on the international community to pressure Israel to halt its human rights violations and to curb settlement activities that impede the efforts of Palestinian institutions to improve the economy and living conditions of Palestinians.
According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.
In 2012, there were 353 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Over 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers between January and mid-October in 2012, according to OCHA.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.