Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised the Palestinian flag at the United Nations for the first time on Wednesday with a promise that it will be raised soon in Jerusalem, "the capital of our Palestinian state." More than 300 ministers, diplomats, and well-wishers who crowded into the rose garden at UN headquarters where a temporary flagpole had been erected for the ceremony applauded his words. Abbas told the crowd it was a historic moment on the Palestinian road to independence. Palestine was designated as a non-member observer state at the United Nations in November 2012 and Palestinian statehood also has been recognized by many countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. As the black, white, green and red flag went up the flagpole, cheers and shouts of "Peace! Peace! Palestine!" erupted.
The Palestinians campaigned for a General Assembly resolution that was overwhelmingly approved on Sept. 10 allowing UN observer states to fly their flags alongside those of the 193 UN member states. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday a day of "pride" and "hope" for Palestinians around the world. He urged the Palestinians to pursue their long-held dream for their own state by first uniting Gaza and the West Bank, and he urged Israel and the Palestinians to revive negotiations that collapsed last year and conclude "a successful peace process." That will lead to the unfurling of the Palestinian flag "in its proper place—among the family of nations as a sovereign member state of the United Nations," Ban said. (Read more United Nations stories.)