International

Israel opposes Palestinian flag-raising at the UN

UNITED NATIONS: Israel on Tuesday expressed strong opposition to a draft resolution that would allow the Palestinian flag to be raised at the United Nations ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders later this month.

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

Prosor said in a letter to the UN leaders that the Palestinian move was an attempt to “score easy and meaningless points at the UN” and that this was “not the path to statehood, this is not the way for peace.”

A draft resolution was presented last week to the General Assembly requesting that the flags of Palestine and the Holy See be hoisted alongside those of the 193 member states.

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

The draft resolution, co-sponsored by 21 countries including Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, is expected to come up for a vote before September 14.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was up to the General Assembly to decide whether the flags of Palestine and the Holy See should be raised at UN headquarters in New York.

Raising the flags of non-member states is “unchartered territory” and Ban will look to the General Assembly “for guidance” on how to respond, said Dujarric.

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

Palestinian president Mahmud 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, which is not co-sponsoring the draft, 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.

The battle over the UN flags comes as the Palestinians seek to bolster their bid for statehood despite fierce opposition from Israel.

Prosor accused the Palestinians of attempting to “hijack the UN” by pushing through the draft text with little discussion.

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