Celebrations are underway today after the U.N. General Assembly decided to raise the Palestinian flag above its headquarters in New York.
United Kingdom — Celebrations are underway today after the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of raising the Palestinian flag above its headquarters in New York.
Thursday evening’s resolution was adopted with 119 voting in favour, 8 against, and 45 abstentions in what is a glimmer of hope for many and symbolism for others. Among the majority voting against the motion were the E.U. states and those voting against the action included the U.S., Israel, Australia, and Canada.
Palestinian Mohammed el-Kurd told the Anti-Media: “Well, the impact is slight and it really doesn’t change anything physically. But, to be honest and optimistic, the flag being raised is like a reminder that Palestinian people exist ─ I’m assuming people of the U.N. continuously forget that.”
Mohammed said the raising of the flag means Palestinians are present at the U.N. headquarters, but their presence is not vital and added: “With both the U.S. and Israel voting against the raising of the flag, seeing it raised pleased me, only because it pissed off these two countries.”
Predictably, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power objected to the raising of the flag, saying it was not an alternative to negotiations and will not bring the parties closer to peace.
The General Assembly upgraded the status of Palestine to that of non-member observer state in 2012, and more than 135 countries now recognise a Palestinian state.
The raising of the flag is to be timed with the visit of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who will address world leaders in New York on September 30th.
Palestinian British academic Azzam Tamimi told Al Jazeera that the gesture was “meaningless.”
“What the Palestinians need from the UN is an acknowledgement of its historic role in dispossessing the Palestinians,” Tamimi said.
He continued: “Our quest is not for another failing Arab state with a meaningless flag and useless institutions, but for a homeland that was stripped from us. We need the UN to atone for its sin by recognising the legitimacy of our struggle.”
While the flag raising in the international arena is a undoubtedly a positive step, it’s not surprising that some Palestinians see it as a useless gesture that adds nothing to their struggle.
A flag is a flag and many might rather see the U.N. help end the siege on Gaza and rebuild bombed schools, hospitals, and homes. Questions could also be asked as to what the flag actually represents as illegal Israeli settlements continue to turn the somewhat mythical Palestinian state into something resembling Swiss cheese.
Others are thrilled by Thursday’s resolution and see it as a small victory on an international stage that has been monopolized by Israel and its supporters for long enough.
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