Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday welcomed a UN decision authorizing Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in New York.
Abbas praised the 119 countries who supported the gesture, saying they were on the side of “truth and justice,” the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
“The struggle will continue until the Palestinian flag flies over our eternal capital, occupied Jerusalem,” he said.
The Palestinians aspire to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state, while Israel claims sovereignty in the entire city.
Outgoing Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor derided the resolution as an “empty symbol” and “political showmanship,” and said the Palestinian flag-raising effort had led the UN to “raise a white flag” and surrender its principals.
“I look forward to the day the flags of our two peoples will be raised side by side, and Israelis and Palestinians live together in peace,” Prosor told the Assembly. “However, instead of trying to guide the Palestinians down the path to peace, you are helping them to ride right off the tracks.”
In his last speech to the UN, Prosor lamented what he called the Palestinian “abuse” of the organization’s institutions.
“The sad part is that you allow them to get away with it,” he said. “You must make it clear to the Palestinians that the only way to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations. As long as the Palestinians believe they can achieve their political goals without making concessions, they will continue to avoid taking the difficult decisions needed for peace.”
The resolution was adopted by member states with 119 in favor, eight voting against — including Israel and the United States — and 45 abstentions.
The text allows the Palestinian flag and that of the Holy See — both of which have non-member observer status — to be hoisted alongside those of the member states.
The world body now has 20 days to implement the move, which would be in time for a visit by Abbas on September 30.
Palestinians had been lobbying intensively to round up the needed votes for the initiative — which both Israel and the United States have firmly oposed.
“Raising the Palestinian flag outside the UN headquarters is not an alternative to negotiations [between Palestinians and Israel], and will not bring the parties closer to peace,” US Ambassador Samantha Power said after the vote.
European nations were divided on the move with France and Sweden voting in favor while others such as Germany, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Cyprus abstained.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre stated that “this flag is a powerful symbol, a glimmer of hope” for the Palestinians amid broken-down peace talks.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort ended last April.