The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion allowing the Palestinian flag to be flown at UN headquarters in New York. The resolution presented by the Palestinian National Authority, allowing the flags of Palestine and the Holy See – both of which have non-member observer status – was adopted yesterday evening with 119 in favour, eight voting against – including the US, Canada and Israel, and 45 abstentions.
The Vatican however ruled out that it would let its flag fly at the world body before Pope Francis’ speech before a high-level gathering of the General Assembly on September 25.
According to the majority of diplomats, the vote was a “mere formality”: the Palestinians carried out a delicate diplomatic effort to garner a majority in the Assembly. The Arab-language media today stresses the “overwhelming” backing of the resolution.
“It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena”, said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN. “Things are bleak, gloomy, the political process is dead, Gaza is being suffocated. This flag resolution is like the small light of a candle to keep hope alive for the Palestinian people”, added Mansour.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, said the raising of the flag was “not an alternative to negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, and will not bring the parties closer to peace”.
Israel Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor maintained that “no vote can turn an empty symbolic gesture into a state”.
Palestine obtained -non-member observer status in November 2012. The resolution gives 20 days for the motion to be implemented, which will be in time for a visit by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on September 30.