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On this day in 2015… The Palestinian flag is raised at the UN

Jerusalem24 – On 30 September 2015, the flag of the State of Palestine was hoisted at the United Nations headquarters in New York, during a ceremony attended by then-Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian officials and foreign dignitaries, as well as Palestinians for whom the experience of seeing their colors fly alongside other Member States’ was a powerful one, if mostly symbolic.

Earlier that month, the UN General Assembly had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion for the flag to be flown, with 119 voting in favor, 45 abstaining, and eight voting against, including Israel and the United States.

Israel had urged member states to vote against the motion, calling it “a photo opportunity” and “a blatant attempt to hijack the UN”.

But while certain Member States cautioned against “changing an established practice” and allowing the flag of non-member observer States (a status which the State of Palestine was granted on 30 November 2012) to be raised before they had achieved full membership, others underlined the symbolic importance of the resolution, with Bolivia saying the Palestinian flag “would be a reminder of occupation and injustice”.

A woman takes a photo as the Palestinian flag is raised outside UN Headquarters in New York, September 30, 2015. [Credit: Raphael Ahren]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared at the ceremony, “In the name of the Palestinian people, I raise the flag of the State of Palestine at the United Nations,” calling on Palestinians everywhere to “raise the flag of Palestine very high.”

In his own remarks, Ban Ki-moon said, “May the raising of this flag give rise to the hope among the Palestinian people and the international community that Palestinian statehood is achievable.” The UN Secretary-General did, however, note that “we can be under no illusion that this ceremony represents the end goal.”

Palestinians watched President Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the UN General Assembly on big screens in Ramallah. [Credit: AFP]

A brief history of the flag

Al-Sharif Hussein designed the current Palestinian flag as the flag of the Arab Revolution in 1916.

Palestinians used the flag as a sign of the Palestinian National Movement in 1917. In 1947, the Arab Baath Party interpreted the flag as a symbol of freedom and Arab unity.

The flag was adopted again at the Palestinian conference in Gaza in 1948. It was subsequently recognized by the Arab League as the flag of the Palestinian people.

At its first meeting on 28 May 1964, the Palestinian National Council adopted its national charter, with article 27 stating that Palestine should have a flag, and determined its colors as follows: green, white, then black with a red triangle.

On 15 November 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization adopted the flag as the flag of the Palestinian state.

The meaning of each color on the Palestinian flag. [Credit: PASSIA]

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