U.N. approves Palestinian request to fly its flag
The United States and Israel were among eight countries that voted against the Palestinian-drafted resolution
The U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved the Palestinians’ proposal to raise their flag, along with that of the Holy See, at U.N. headquarters - a symbolic step in the Palestinians’ pursuit of statehood.
Israel has strongly objected to the proposal.
There were 119 votes in favor out of 193 U.N. members.
The United States and Israel were among eight countries that voted against the Palestinian-drafted resolution, which says the flags of non-member observer states like Palestine “shall be raised at (U.N.) Headquarters and United Nations Offices following the flags of the member states.”
Most of the 28-nation European Union were among the 45 nations that abstained, though France and more than half a dozen others voted in favor of the Palestinian resolution after the EU split on the issue.
“It’s a step to the recognition of Palestine as a full member state of the United Nations,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told reporters in Paris earlier on Thursday.
The only other non-member observer state is the Vatican, which reacted coolly when the Palestinians first circulated their draft resolution last month.
The Palestinians initially presented their initiative as a joint effort with the Holy See, but the Vatican said it would not co-sponsor the resolution and requested that its name be removed from the text.
The Vatican said on Wednesday it had not decided whether to fly its flag next to the Palestinians’, should the resolution pass.
The resolution says observer states’ flags will be flown within 20 days. Palestinian diplomats say they expect their flag to be raised on Sept. 30, the day Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses world leaders at the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly.
Israel, meanwhile has called the resolution “another cynical misuse of the U.N. by the Palestinian Authority.” Washington said the initiative was “counterproductive.”
Alongside France, EU members Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Belgium and Malta cast yes votes. France has been spearheading a push to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which collapsed in 2014.
“We need to mobilize a new dynamic to preserve the two-state solution,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in Paris.
“We have to reduce tension on the ground and restart a credible dialogue,” he added. “Without a resolution of this conflict it will be difficult to find solutions elsewhere in the region.”
In 2012, the General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine. That followed a failed bid by the Palestinians to secure full U.N. membership.
(With the Associated Press and Reuters)
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