UN set to back raising Palestinian flag

AFP , Thursday 3 Sep 2015

Palestinian flag
The Palestinian flag flutters after a flag raising ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, December 13, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

A draft resolution on raising the Palestinian flag at the United Nations will be adopted next week in time for president Mahmud Abbas' visit to New York, the Palestinian envoy said Thursday.

The UN General Assembly will vote on September 10 on the measure that is almost certain to garner a majority of votes in the 193-nation forum.

"We have the votes and we are working to get as many votes as we can," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations.

Once adopted, the UN will have 20 days to carry out the decision, which would be in time for Abbas' visit on September 30.

Mansour declined to say whether a formal flag-raising ceremony would be held during Abbas' visit, an event that would highlight the Palestinians' aspirations for statehood.

"It is a symbolic thing but it is another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena and give our people a small hope that the international community is still supporting the independence of the state of Palestine," Mansour told reporters.

The draft resolution presented last week to the General Assembly would allow the flags of Palestine and of the Holy See to be hoisted alongside those of the 193 member states.

Both the Vatican and Palestine have non-member observer status at the United Nations.

Israel's envoy to the United Nations this week expressed strong opposition to the initiative, accusing the Palestinians of trying to "score easy and meaningless points at the UN."

Ambassador Ron Prosor had asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly president Ron Kutesa to block the move, which would break with the UN practice of flying only the flags of member states.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban would abide by the General Assembly decision.

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

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

Pope Francis is to make a much-anticipated address on September 25. The Vatican has officially recognized Palestine as a state.

The Holy See said it would abide by the decision of the General Assembly. But it also noted that the tradition at the United Nations was to fly the flags of full members.

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