For first time, Palestine’s flag raised outside the UN

World Today

The State of Palestine flag flies for the first time at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Surrounded by a crowd of hundreds, the flag of Palestine was raised outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City on Wednesday. Ministers, diplomats, and well-wishers crowded at the rose garden for the ceremony marking the first time the flag had flown there.

Why is this a big deal?

In 2012, the United Nations recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state,  an upgrade from its non-member observer entity status it had since 1975. Earlier this month, it passed a controversial resolution allowing its flag to be flown. 


Israel has  actively campaigning against the formation of a separate Palestinian state due to security reasons, and the two have been in conflict since 1922.  Israel was against the resolution and and was one of the eight member states to vote against it. 

ho voted for and against the flag to be flown? 

The United Nations adopted the resolution to allow the raising of flags of the two non member observer states (Palestine and Vatican) outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City on September 10, 2015, the . Of the 193 U.N. members, 119 voted in favor (including China), eight against, and 45 declined to vote.

Eight states voted against:

Australia      1280px-Flag_of_Australia.svg

Canada      Flag_of_Canada.svg


Flag of Israel

Marshall Islands       marshall

Federated States of Micronesia         1140px-Flag_of_the_Trust_Territory_of_the_Pacific_Islands.svg

Palau                   2000px-Flag_of_Palau.svg  

Tuvalu                Flag_of_Tuvalu.svg          

United States  17796-american-flag-close-up-pv

ow are the flags ordered? 

The 194 flags representing the member states and the U.N. flag are organized in English alphabetical order and run from north to south outside the U.N. headquarters and the U.N. offices. They are raised on a daily basis by hand, at 8 a.m, every weekday morning and lowered at 4 p.m. On weekends, only the U.N. flag is raised.  

According to the resolution, the non-member observer flags will be raised after the flags of the member states. While Palestine’s flag went up Sept, 30, the Vatican‘s flag was raised on Sept. 25 during the Pope’s visit to New York. Unlike Palestine, there was no special ceremony to mark the raising of the Vatican City flag.


hat is a non-member observer state?

There are 193 member states and two non-member observer states: Palestine and the Vatican. Non-member States refer to states that have received an invitation from the U.N. to “participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters.” 


Flag of Palestine


Flag of Vatican City

oes this change the status of the non-member states?

While the raising of the flag does not directly make any change to the status and its relations with Israel and Palestine’s attempts to be recognized as a state, many Palestinians are calling this move groundbreaking. Some hope that this could help strengthen Palestine’s effort toward international recognition as a state as well as permanent membership in the U.N.

According to the Associated Press, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared at the ceremony that he is no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel and called on the United Nations to provide international protection for Palestinians, in the most serious warning yet that he might walk away from engagement with the Jewish state.