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Palestine and Vatican in UN flag fracas

The ongoing dilemmas over Palestinian statehood took a new turn this week as the Vatican objected to a Palestinian Authority request for the two observer states to the United Nations to be allowed to raise their flags at its headquarters. The Palestinian leadership called on the UN to adopt a resolution approving the raising of the Palestinian and Vatican flags alongside those of the member states. In an Aug. 28 statement, the Holy See said it would abide by any resolution, but noted that since the its founding in 1945, it has been a tradition that "only flags of member States are displayed at the UN headquarters and offices." The statement seems to be aimed at placating Israel, which harshly criticized the Vatican in June after it formally recognized a Palestinian state, signing its first bilateral accord with the Palestinian Authority, concerning the activities of the Church in the Palestinian territories. A vote on the flag resolution, sponsored by 21 countries, is to take place Sept. 15. Among the co-sponsors are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official dismissed the resolution as a "cheap and unnecessary gimmick."

The Vatican has only had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993, and has yet to conclude an accord on the Church's rights within the state, although that matter has been under discussion since 1999. (AFP, Aug. 29; JP, Aug. 27)

The UN General Assembly admitted Palestine as a non-member state in November 2012. A year earlier, Palestine was granted full member status in UNESCO. In May 2015, Palestineformally joined the International Criminal Court.

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