Palestinian flag flying at UN – ‘symbolic, Palestine coming back to map’
RT: What does this raising of the Palestinian flag means? Is it just a symbolic gesture or is the international community is becoming more concerned about the Palestinian problems?
Xavier Abu Eid: We are not denying that raising the flag is a symbolic step. But it is a very important and meaningful step. The flag of Palestine has been a symbol for the people that have struggling for their independence, for their rights to return, for justice, for peace, for equality. And this symbol was raised at the United Nations - the same place that decided to divide Palestine 68 years ago. Today [we are] seeing how Palestine is slowly coming back to the map. In fact, it is indeed a very important symbolic gesture. It is a landmark and historic day for the struggle of the Palestinian people for their self-determination and return.
RT: Will this go further, will the UN and other international bodies pay more attention to the Palestine - Israel conflict?
XE: We have been calling for a while for the international community to assume its responsibility, to end Israel’s culture of impunity, to implement dozens of solutions by the UN and international law in general, that Israel continues to violate with a culture of impunity that is only strengthening an apartheid regime and it is not getting us closer to peace. In this context, raising the flag of Palestine - as the Bolivian ambassador at the UN said: ”It will be a reminder to the international community that every time that they see this flag they have to remember the prisoners, the martyrs, the injured, the settlements, the annexation war, the refugees and all the crimes that Israel has committed here and has to end in order to have peace not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but also for the whole region.”
RT: On Wednesday, speaking at the UN General Assembly Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority “could not continue to be bound by the agreements” signed with Israel in the mid-1990s, and also accused Israel of undermining Washington’s efforts to broker peace. Netanyahu’s office responded by saying that Abbas’ speech was “deceitful” and encouraged “incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.” Do you think Israel will make any steps in reaction to the raising of the Palestinian flag now?
XE: It is clear that Israel is not going to like to see the flag of Palestine. They have been fighting for 68 years now to deny the existence of the Palestinian people, to colonize the state of Palestine, to keep our nation in exile and divided. And despite all of this, despite the fact that we are just people under occupation and Israel is a huge nuclear power, they could not break our will and the flag of Palestine was raised at the UN – a symbolic but important step. Of course, we are not expecting Israel to make a party because their game is not about ‘two states’, it is not about Palestine living side by side [with] the State of Israel – it is about Israel instead of Palestine, it is about continuing the colonization. And we would call upon the US and a few other countries that if they support ‘the two states’ solution as they claim to support, what we need now are actions and not only statements. We cannot continue seeing how the principles that, for example, President [Barack] Obama give in his speech at the UN when he talked about the importance of the UN, the importance of accountability, the rule of law, human rights… It seems that for the US that is applicable all over the world but for the Palestinians. Enough is enough. This flag that we are raising at the UN is a symbol that we are not only ready for statehood; we are tired of double standards, of hypocrisy. We need our rights now.
RT: Abbas said that the Palestinian flag will soon be waving over East Jerusalem - is it a threat, and how is he going to achieve it?
XE: To raise our flag in Jerusalem – it is not a gift, it is a right. And that is what President [Mahmoud] Abbas said at the UN. East Jerusalem is an internationally recognized occupied capital of the State of Palestine. And raising our flag there as President Yasser Arafat said “over the walls, over the minarets, over the churches of Jerusalem” is not only a right; it is going to mark the fulfillment of our national struggle for self-determination.
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