Palestinian, Vatican flags poised to fly above UN headquarters

By Jonathan Wachtel
Published September 08,

The Palestinian flag could be raised in time for Mahmoud Abbas' visit. (file)

The UN is poised to raise the Palestinian and Vatican flags above its New York headquarters, an honor previously reserved for member states.

The General Assembly will vote Thursday on a draft resolution that would raise the flags to fly among banners of the 193 member states, and it is expected to pass easily. The Vatican and the Palestinians hold non-member observer status at the UN.

Once the resolution is endorsed, the flag must be raised within 20 days, meaning the Palestinian standard would fly by the time Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits the annual general debate later this month.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, called it "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.”

The Palestinian observer mission to the UN told Fox News that a formal flag-raising event might even be held with Abbas present so as to garner “more support for statehood.” The Security Council is the only body of the UN that has the power to officially approve membership. The U.S., which has historically called for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is expected to vote against the General Assembly resolution.

In a letter to the General Assembly President Ron Kutesa and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations accused the Palestinians of manipulating the UN system “to score easy and meaningless points.”

“Rather than choosing to negotiate in good faith while making the required compromises, they prefer hollow one-sided resolutions," wrote Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor. "For 70 years the United Nations has raised only flags of full member states. I find it difficult to understand why, after 70 years, there is such an urgency to change longstanding practices.”

Unlike the Palestinian Authority, the Vatican is not wading into the politics of the issue. The Holy See’s observer mission to the UN told Fox News it will abide by the decision of the General Assembly but understands that UN tradition is to fly only the flag of member states. Though the Vatican has officially recognized Palestine as a state, the Holy See did not played a role in drafting the General Assembly resolution, which is co-sponsored by dozens of Muslim nations and other pro-Palestinian countries.

It is not clear whether the flag would be raised in time for Pope Francis’ General Assembly address on Sept. 25.