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UN backs raising Palestinian flag at NY headquarters

Arab Israelis wave Palestinian flags during a rally commemorating Land Day on March 30, 2014 in the northern Israeli town of Arrabe
AFP
Israel ambassador Ron Prosor maintained that 'no vote can turn an empty symbolic gesture into a state'

The UN General Assembly voted on Thursday to allow the Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in a diplomatic victory in their campaign for statehood.

A resolution was adopted by member states with 119 in favor, eight voting against -- including Israel and the United States -- and 45 abstentions.

The text allows the flags of Palestine and the Vatican -- both of which have non-member observer status -- to be hoisted alongside those of the member states.

The world body now has 20 days to implement the move, which would be in time for a visit by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on September 30.

Palestinians had been lobbying intensively to round up the needed votes for the initiative -- which both Israel and the United States have firmly opposed.

"Raising the Palestinian flag outside the UN headquarters is not an alternative to negotiations (between Palestinians and Israel), and will not bring the parties closer to peace," US ambassador Samantha Power said after the vote.

Mohammed Abed (AFP/File)

While the move to fly the Palestinian flag at the UN is mainly symbolic, in the weeks leading up to the the Israeli foreign Ministry worked hard to sway other member countries to vote against the proposal.

Israel ambassador Ron Prosor maintained that "no vote can turn an empty symbolic gesture into a state."

"Make no mistake, the goal of this resolution is a photo op...The Palestinians want to bring together world dignitaries and the media to gather around and watch as Mahmoud Abbas raises a flag. They plan to use the prestige of the UN as a backdrop for this charade,” he said.

European nations were divided on the move with France and Sweden voting in favor while others such as Germany, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Cyprus abstained.

French ambassador Francois Delattre stated that "this flag is a powerful symbol, a glimmer of hope," for the Palestinians amid broken-down peace talks.

Daniel Bockwoldt (DPA/AFP)

In a speech thanking supporters for the vote Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said, "Today’s vote is a reaffirmation of the legitimacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, of their existence among the nations of the world and their right to self-determination."

The chief representative of the delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat, responded on Twitter to the 'no' vote by the United States shows that it is "becoming isolated due to its blind support of Israel. Flag will be raised regardless."

"It is time the US took action against American individuals & organizations supporting Jewish terror against Palestinians under occupation," Areikat tweeted.

In Ramallah, a collective of trade unions raised the Palestinian flag over their headquarters in support of the vote, saying that the flag is a "symbol of martyrs, sacrifices, revolution and statehood," stressing that the UN's decision is an important step in achieving an independent Palestinian state.

Prior to the vote Palestine attempted to garner support from the Vatican to join the resolution but the Vatician denied saying that they wanted to stay out of the diplomatic move. The Vatican has no plans to fly the flag of the Holy See at the UN before Pope Francis to address the General assembly in late September.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year, and a war in the Gaza Strip last summer.

(Staff with AFP)

Comments

(2)

What's next for the UN? The ISIS flag? There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation!!!! The camel jockeys in Ramallah should be absorbed by the nations from where their families came.

The majority of the Palestinians have lived in the area for longer than the majority of the Jews. "camel jockeys in Ramallah"? wall wailers in Jerusalem? .... unnecessary really!

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