Palestinian flag flown at the UN for the first time
IN A ceremony presided over by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, the Palestinian flag has been raised at the United Nations for the first time.
Although Palestine is not a member of the UN, the General Assembly passed a Palestinian-drafted resolution to allow non-member observer states to fly their flags alongside those of full member states.
The resolution was backed by 119 countries, with 45 abstentions and eight votes against, among them Australia, Israel and the US.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the crowd at the ceremony: "In this historic moment, I say to my people everywhere - raise the flag of Palestinians very high because it is the symbol of our identity."
Although Israel and the US dismissed the move as a symbolic gesture that would not further peace, Mr Ban said symbols were important and could lead to action.
In a speech to the UN, Mr Abbas accused Israel of using brutal force against Palestinians and said it had sabotaged US efforts to broker peace.
He said his government no longer considered itself bound by the Oslo agreements struck two decades ago, as Israel had failed to live up to its obligations.