Palestinian flag raised for first time at UNESCO

Abbas attends ceremony following PA's acceptance to UN cultural agency; is the first time the flag is raised over a UN body.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 13, 2011 14:22
2 minute read.
The Palestinian flag is raised at UNESCO in Paris

The Palestinian flag is raised at UNESCO in Paris 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attended a ceremony at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris on Tuesday for the first official raising of the Palestinian flag after the PA was admitted to the organization as a full member in late October.

"It is moving to see our flag raised and for it to be flying in this beautiful city of Paris among all the other states. This bodes well for Palestine becoming a member of other international institutions," Abbas said.

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"We hope we will have one independent state in the future that will live side by side with Israel," the PA president added.

"This is the first time that the (Palestinian) flag will be flown at the headquarters of a UN institution," a Palestinian diplomat told AFP. "President Abbas wants to show the importance he attaches to UNESCO."

The UN cultural organization noted that the ceremony takes place each time a new member joins, the French agency reported.

Following the Palestinian Authority's admission to the UN organization Jerusalem froze the transfer of tax funds it collects on its behalf in protest of the move. The transfers were resumed less than two months later.

For Israel, the move was part of a concerted Palestinian campaign to bypass peace talks and achieve statehood through unilateral moves in UN bodies. Its UNESCO membership came on the heels of a failed bid for full membership in the United Nations General Assembly, which faced the threat of a US veto should the issue have come to a vote in the Security Council.

At the time of the PA's acceptance to UNESCO, Abbas said the vote was "not directed against anyone, but represents support for freedom and justice."

"This vote is for the sake of peace and represents international consensus on support for the legitimate Palestinian national rights of our people, the foremost of which is the establishment of its independent state," he added.

The United States, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain and Italy abstained.

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice called the vote "deeply damaging" to the UN cultural agency and "no substitute for direct negotiations."

Jerusalem has said the Palestinian bid would amount to politicization of the agency that would undermine its ability to carry out its mandate.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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