Palestinian Flag Raised at the United Nations for the First Time

0930_Palestine Flag Flies United Nations
The black, white, red and green flag of the State of Palestine was raised above the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York for the first time on Wednesday. Lucy Westcott

The black, white, red and green flag of the State of Palestine was raised above the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York for the first time on Wednesday.

"The symbolism of raising your flag at the United Nations reflects the commitment of the Palestinian Authority to pursue the long-held dream of the Palestinian people for their own state," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the ceremony. "It also symbolizes the longstanding commitment of the United Nations to support Palestinian aspirations."

"I sincerely hope that a successful peace process will soon yield a day when we unfurl the Palestinian flag in its proper place—among the family of nations as a sovereign member state of the United Nations," said Ban. He added that it was a "day of pride for Palestinians around the world, a day of hope."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the U.N. General Assembly earlier on Wednesday and said the Palestinian people will no longer observe any previous agreements made with Israel, including the landmark 1995 Oslo Accords, which laid out the terms for a two-state solution to the conflict.

Related: Palestinian President Says No Longer Bound by Agreements With Israel

Abbas spoke of a "historic injustice" committed against Palestinians and their homeland and said it was "unconscionable" that the question of Palestine has remained unresolved after seven decades of the U.N.'s existence. "The continuation of the status quo is unacceptable," he said.

Speaking under dark clouds that threatened to rain on the flag-raising ceremony, Abbas said September 30 would now be known as the day of the Palestinian flag. He also said he hopes to see the Palestinian flag fly over Jerusalem.

"I say to my people everywhere: Raise the flag of Palestine high because it is a symbol of our Palestinian identity," Abbas said.

The flag was hoisted in the U.N. Rose Garden, where many statues symbolizing historical struggles, such as a segment of the Berlin Wall, are situated. Hundreds of dignitaries were present, including from countries deeply divided over the Syrian conflict, including Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The decision to raise the flags of Palestine and the Vatican was made earlier this month, when the U.N. adopted a resolution allowing non-member observer states to raise their flags. A total of 119 countries voted in favor of the flag-raising, while eight—Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tuvalu and the U.S.—voted against it. Forty-five countries abstained from the vote.

Palestine is not a full member state of the U.N., but, like the Vatican, does have permanent observer status, meaning it can speak at the U.N. but can't vote on resolutions. Palestine's observer to the U.N. called the decision "a historic vote," while Israel's U.N. representative said the resolution was a "photo opportunity."

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been somewhat overshadowed by the war in Syria, Abbas said he came from Palestine to "sound the alarm about what is happening in Jerusalem." Renewed clashes broke out earlier this week at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after Israeli police stormed the mosque's compound. Police carried out raids on the mosque in anticipation of an increase in Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, which is considered an important holy site to both Muslims and Jews.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to speak at the U.N. on Thursday.

Ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine have continued to play out at the U.N. this year with the publication of a report that accused Israel's army and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, of war crimes during the 50-day Gaza War last year. Israel released its own pre-emptive report defending its actions in Gaza, which the country said were lawful.