Palestinian flag raised at the U.N. for the first time

The red, black, white and green Palestinian flag was erected around 1:15 pm in the rose garden of the U.N. headquarters

Published: Updated:

The Palestinians raised their flag at the United Nations for the first time on Wednesday, a symbolic gesture approved by a General Assembly vote at the world body earlier this month.

The red, black, white and green Palestinian flag was erected around 1:15 pm in the rose garden of the U.N. headquarters.

“In this historical moment, I say to my people everywhere: raise the flag of Palestinians very high because it is the symbol of our identity,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told a huge crowd. “It is a proud day.”

Ominous dark clouds gathered in the sky, threatening to mar with rain an occasion condemned by Israel and the United States as a gesture that would not serve the cause of peace.

The General Assembly voted on September 10 to allow the flags of Palestine and the Vatican - both have observer status - to be raised at the world body alongside those of member states.

The resolution was backed by 119 countries, with 45 abstentions and eight votes against, including Australia, Israel and the United States.

Abbas: Palestine deserves full recognition

Earlier on Wednesday, Abbas said Palestine deserves full membership and recognition as a state at the United Nations as he launched a searing attack on Israeli policy.

“Palestine, which is an observer state in the United Nations, deserves full recognition and full membership,” he said.

Abbas appealed to “those countries that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine yet, to do so.”

Abbas told the General Assembly that Israel’s refusal to commit to past agreements and release Palestinian prisoners, and continued Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, was sapping Palestinian hopes of ever achieving an independent state.

“They leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them,” he said.

But not all Palestinians were approving of what they call "empty gestures" instead of concrete actions.

Meanwhile, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip Hamas was reserved in its reaction.

"The speech was emotional, and will be judged by how long it takes him to implement his commitment to end the agreements with the Israeli occupation," said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, according to AFP.

Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement remain deeply divided.