UNITED NATIONS - The senior UN political official has expressed his hope that talks between Israel and Palestine will both continue and intensify - in spite of the transition under way in Tel Aviv - in line with the peace process launched last year in the US city of Annapolis. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council on Wednesday that despite efforts by the Palestinian Authority to improve security and develop the judicial sector, "the situation on the ground is not improving in the way that is required." Over the past month, Israeli-Palestinian violence has killed seven Palestinians, including two children, while 116 Palestinians and 34 Israelis have been injured. Among the deaths, a 61-year-old Palestinian woman and 15-year-old child lost their lives when the Israeli troops fired at stone-throwers in the West Bank. This year's olive harvest in the region has just begun, but Pascoe voiced concern over the safety of Palestinian farmers as they harvest crops near settlements and outposts. Although Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has denounced those attacking olive pickers and said that the IDF is doing its best to protect them, he also acknowledged that it is impossible to watch over all locations. "The calm brokered by Egypt is by and large holding between Gaza and southern Israel," in spite of incidents, such as the firing of a rocket into the Negev yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General said. "Unfortunately, there has been no improvement in the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza," he added, with inadequate supplies of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and industrial gas entering the area. Pascoe underscored that the continued split between the West Bank and Gaza is causing ever-growing problems, including strikes by teachers and health workers. He called on all States in the region to support Egypt-led mediation efforts to reunify the two areas. In a move he characterized as a "welcome development," the first phase of rubble removal began on 17 October one year after fighting in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon ended. "We look forward to the parties briefing the Quartet in the near future," the Under-Secretary-General said, referring to the diplomatic grouping comprising the UN, the European Union (EU), Russia and the US. In addition, he called for increased talks between Israel and Syria under Turkish auspices as well as stepped-up efforts to build on progress in Lebanon. In a report made public last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel and the Palestinians to push ahead with efforts towards a comprehensive settlement to their long-running conflict. At their meeting in November 2007 in Annapolis, leaders of the two sides agreed to launch immediately good-faith negotiations to try to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2008 that resolves all outstanding issues. "I call upon the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to undertake every effort to achieve the goal of the Annapolis process," Ban wrote in the publication. "Time is now running short until we reach the benchmark of the Annapolis process, and there reportedly remain significant gaps."