Palestine and Vatican in UN flag fracas

The ongoing dilemmas over Palestinian statehood took a new turn this week as the Vatican objected to a Palestinian Authority request for the two observer states to the United Nations to be allowed to raise their flags at its headquarters. The Palestinian leadership called on the UN to adopt a resolution approving the raising of the Palestinian and Vatican flags alongside those of the member states. In an Aug. 28 statement, the Holy See said it would abide by any resolution, but noted that since the its founding in 1945, it has been a tradition that "only flags of member States are displayed at the UN headquarters and offices." The statement seems to be aimed at placating Israel, which harshly criticized the Vatican in June after it formally recognized a Palestinian state, signing its first bilateral accord with the Palestinian Authority, concerning the activities of the Church in the Palestinian territories. A vote on the flag resolution, sponsored by 21 countries, is to take place Sept. 15. Among the co-sponsors are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official dismissed the resolution as a "cheap and unnecessary gimmick."

The Vatican has only had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993, and has yet to conclude an accord on the Church's rights within the state, although that matter has been under discussion since 1999. (AFP, Aug. 29; JP, Aug. 27)

The UN General Assembly admitted Palestine as a non-member state in November 2012. A year earlier, Palestine was granted full member status in UNESCO. In May 2015, Palestine formally joined the International Criminal Court.

UN votes in favor of raising Palestinian flag

The United Nations General Assembly voted late Sept. 10 in favor of raising the Palestinian flag at its headquarters in New York by an overwhelming majority, in a symbolic diplomatic victory in the PLO's 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. President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the decision, adding that the struggle will continue until the flag is raised over the "eternal" Palestinian capital of Jerusalem. (Ma'an)

Abbas: Palestine no longer bound by agreements with Israel

President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 30 that the Palestinian Authority will not remain committed to agreements with Israel, referring to the Oslo Accords of 1993, while violations take place on a daily basis.

Abbas told the General Assembly that Israel's refusal to commit to past agreements and release Palestinian prisoners, and continued Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, were destroying the possibility of a Palestinian state.

"We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue and the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council last March are specific and binding."

The Central Council meeting had called for an end to security coordination with Israel as long as it continued to violate signed agreements. Despite the call, security coordination with Israel has remained unchanged. Abbas delivered his address ahead of a ceremony to raise the Palestinian flag at the world body for the first time, alongside those of the UN's 193 member states. (Ma'an)