Palestinians allowed to raise flag at UN headquarters

The Palestinian, pictured, and Holy See flags can be raised outside official United Nations buildings, including in Geneva and Vienna (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)
The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to allow the Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in a diplomatic victory in their campaign for statehood.
A resolution was adopted by member states with 119 in favor, eight voting against — including Israel and the United States — and 45 abstentions.
The text allows the flags of Palestine and the Holy See — both of which have non-member observer status — to be hoisted alongside those of the member states.
The world body now has 20 days to implement the move, which would be in time for a visit by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on September 30.
"It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN.
In Paris, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah called the flag vote "a step on the road towards Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations."
He spoke after meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and expressed hope France would one day recognize a Palestinian state — something it has so far refused to do.
European nations were divided on the move, with France, Russia and Sweden voting in favor while others such as Britain, Germany, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Cyprus abstained.
French ambassador Francois Delattre stated that "this flag is a powerful symbol, a glimmer of hope," for the Palestinians amid broken-down peace talks.
China also voted in favor of the measure.
Mansour said the initiative had the potential to "give our people some hope that the international community is still supporting the independence of the state of Palestine.
"Things are bleak, gloomy, the political process is dead, Gaza is being suffocated. This flag resolution is like the small light of a candle to keep hope alive for the Palestinian people."
Mansour said Palestinians had been lobbying intensively in recent weeks to round up the needed votes.
When the Palestinians gained non-member observer status on November 29, 2012, it was by a vote in the General Assembly of 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
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