Pales­tini­ans to raise their flag at the United Na­tions for first time


The Pales­tini­ans will raise their flag at the United Na­tions on Wed­nes­day in what pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas calls a bea­con of hope at a time of grow­ing de­spair of achiev­ing an in­de­pen­dent state.

U. N. Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon and Ab­bas will pre­side over the 15- minute cer­e­mony in the rose gar­den, to be­gin at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) shortly af­ter the Pales­tinian leader ad­dresses the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

Ab­bas, 80, called it “our mo­ment of hope,” in an op-ed pub­lished by The Huff­in­g­ton Post on the eve of the cer­e­mony.

Rain is forecast for much of the day, which could put a damper on an oc­ca­sion con­demned by Is­rael and the United States as a sym­bolic ges­ture that would not serve the cause of peace.

Hun­dreds of world lead­ers are in­vited, but an of­fi­cial at the Pales­tinian mis­sion to the U.N. could say only that “a large” num­ber would at­tend.

The Gen­eral Assem­bly voted Sept. 10 to al­low the flags of Palestine and the Vat­i­can — both have ob­server sta­tus — to be raised at the world body along­side those of mem­ber states.

The res­o­lu­tion was backed by 119 coun­tries, with 45 ab­sten­tions and eight votes against, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Is­rael and the United States.

In The Huff­in­g­ton Post, Ab­bas urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to ur­gently “seize the mo­men­tum” from the flag-rais­ing and pro­vide a clear plan to end Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion, up­hold hu­man rights and achieve jus­tice.

“It is time to fi­nally achieve the in­de­pen­dence of the State of Palestine, peace­fully re­solv­ing the Pales­tinian- Is­raeli con­flict,” he wrote.

Ab­bas called for a mul­ti­lat­eral peace process as in the Balkans, say­ing that Pales­tini­ans can­not ne­go­ti­ate di­rectly with Is­rael, which “ex­hibits such con­tempt for the rights and ex­is­tence of our peo­ple.”

His ad­dress to the Gen­eral Assem­bly, ex­pected at 12 p.m. ( 1600 GMT), will be closely watched for clues about his in­ten­tions at a time of grow­ing volatil­ity.

Ten­sions Ris­ing

Clashes in re­cent weeks be­tween Is­raeli po­lice and Pales­tini­ans at the sen­si­tive Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound in Jerusalem have raised ten­sions and prompted Ab­bas to warn of the risk of a third in­tifada.

Spec­u­la­tion has been grow­ing about whether his re­tire­ment is im­mi­nent or whether he in­tends to take the dras­tic step of dis­man­tling the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity to re-en­er­gize the push for state­hood.

A re­cent poll found that Pales­tini­ans are in­creas­ingly ex­as­per­ated with his lead­er­ship and Is­rael’s right-wing gov­ern­ment.

A ma­jor­ity fa­vor a re­turn to armed upris­ing in the ab­sence of peace talks and two thirds want Ab­bas to re­sign.

“Ab­bas is go­ing to tell ev­ery­one that the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is no longer ten­able, that the Au­thor­ity has au­thor­ity in name only, while Is­rael is de­stroy­ing any idea of a two-state so­lu­tion,” a Pales­tinian of­fi­cial told AFP ear­lier this week, de­clin­ing to pro­vide fur­ther de­tails.

Also, Is­raeli air raids have hit the Gaza Strip in re­sponse to a rocket fired from the Pales­tinian en­clave that was in­ter­cepted by the Iron Dome mis­sile de­fence sys­tem, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

There were no re­ports of in­juries from both the rocket fire and the Is­raeli raids, which the mil­i­tary said tar­geted “four terror sites.”

Wit­nesses and Pales­tinian se­cu­rity sources said four train­ing camps for Ha­mas’s armed wing, the Ezze­dine Al- Qas­sam Brigades, were hit in the raids. They were empty at the time.

Three of the camps are lo­cated in Gaza City and the fourth in the north of the coastal en­clave.


Pales­tinian youths run from tear gas fired by Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces dur­ing clashes over the Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound at the main en­trance of the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, Tues­day, Sept. 29.

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