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U.N. likely to back raising Palestinian flag

The United Nations is expected on Thursday to allow the Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in New York

Published: Updated:

The United Nations is expected on Thursday to allow the Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in New York in a symbolic move highlighting Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

The General Assembly will vote at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) on a draft resolution that diplomats say is almost certain to garner a majority in the 193-nation forum.

“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 U.N.

The resolution would allow the flags of Palestine and the Holy See, both of which have non-member observer status, to be hoisted alongside those of the member states.

If adopted, the U.N. would have 20 days to implement the move, which would be in time for a visit by president Mahmud Abbas on September 30.



Mansour said the initiative had the potential to “give our people some hope that the international community is still supporting the independence of the state of Palestine.

“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.”

Diplomats says the only unknown is how broad support for the resolution will be, and in particular the attitude of the Europeans who have been divided over the initiative.

Both Israel and the United States have expressed strong opposition, with Israel’s ambassador to the body Ron Prosor slamming “a blatant attempt to hijack the U.N.”

The U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner called it a “counterproductive” attempt to pursue statehood claims outside of a negotiated settlement.

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among world leaders converging on U.N. headquarters from September 25 for an anti-poverty summit and the annual General Assembly debate.

The General Assembly upgraded the status of the Palestinians to that of non-member observer state in 2012.

The Vatican said it would abide by the decision of the General Assembly. But it also noted that the tradition at the U.N. was to fly the flags of full members.