Middle East

Palestinians invite leaders to UN flag-raising ceremony

Hundreds of world leaders are invited to a ceremony this month to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations despite opposition from Israel and the United States, the Palestinian envoy said Tuesday.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will attend the September 30 ceremony that follows a vote in the UN General Assembly to allow the flag of Palestine to fly at UN headquarters in New York.
"It will be a glorious day, a proud day for us," Riyad Mansour told reporters in announcing the date for the flag-raising ceremony.
"We expect hundreds of leaders to be with president Abbas to celebrate that moment and to participate in the ceremony."
Eight countries including Israel, the United States, Canada and Australia voted against the measure, dismissing it as a symbolic gesture that would not serve the cause of peace.
But Mansour said the flag will be a "beacon of hope" for the Palestinians and confirm their aspirations to become an independent state and full member of the United Nations.
The Palestinians have had non-member observer status at the United Nations since 2012.
To highlight the UN event, Palestinians worldwide will raise their flag in businesses, schools, and in their cars at the same time as the UN flag-raising ceremony, Mansour said.
The UN resolution adopted last week allowed the flags of Palestine and the Holy See to be flown alongside those of the 193 member-states and gave UN officials 20 days to follow up on the decision.
Two poles have since been erected on the grounds of UN headquarters and talks are underway on the details of the ceremony.
On the same day as the flag-raising, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting of the Middle East Quartet seeking a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The peace process slipped into a deep coma after a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year.  
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, along with the secretary general of the Arab League, will attend in a bid to broaden the search for a way back to the negotiating table.

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