Palestinians raise flag at UN's New York headquarters for first time

Raising the Palestinian flag at the UN is a symbolic gesture. The UN has not accepted Palestine as a member state.

September 30, 2015 20:22
2 minute read.

UN raises Palestinian flag outside NY

UN raises Palestinian flag outside NY


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NEW YORK – Hundreds of UN officials and members of international delegations gathered on Wednesday afternoon to witness the raising of the Palestinian flag at the United Nations Headquarters for the first time in history.

“This is a day of pride for Palestinians around the world,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the ceremony. “It is a day of hope.”

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The flag was raised moments after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial speech to the General Assembly, in which he declared that the PA was no longer bound by the Oslo Accords with Israel.

People in the cheering crowd held their cellphones as high as possible to catch a picture of Abbas, Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft.

Wednesday’s ceremony was the result of a vote held at the UN earlier this month, in which 119 states voted in favor of raising the flag and only 8, including Israel and the United States, voted against it.

Just after the vote, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour called the decision a “reaffirmation of the legitimacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, of their existence among the nations of the world and their right to self-determination, to be a free people in control of their lives and destiny in their own independent state.”

The ceremony only carried symbolic meaning however, as the United Nations has not yet recognized Palestine as a member state.

“Symbols are important,” Ban Ki-moon noted. “A symbol can lead to action in the right direction.” The secretary-general also added that raising the Palestinian flag is a symbol of the “longstanding commitment of the United Nations to support Palestinian aspirations.”

As the flag reached the top of the pole, which had been placed in the United Nations Rose Garden especially for the occasion, humanitarian activist and “proud Palestinian” Hazami Barmada held up her arms in joy.

For her, seeing the Palestinian flag raised at the UN is a step toward “restoring the dignity of the Palestinian people.”

“I think, beyond the conflict, we are forgetting the very human elements of what the toll of 60 plus years of conflict has done on the pride of the Palestinian people,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

“I also hope the Palestinian diaspora, of which I am one, will be able to return to the region, to visit the region freely without interrogation,” she added. “I face immense challenges entering into my own home country.”

Barmada said she hopes the UN works toward giving the Palestinians a state, “not only in which they have free rights and restored rights and dignity, but also equality both on a global level and locally.”

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