‘Raising Palestinian flag at UN step towards member status’

Paris: The raising of the Palestinian flag over UN headquarters would be a key step towards the Palestinians obtaining the status of a member state, the prime minister said today.

The General Assembly in New York is set to vote at 1900 GMT on a draft resolution to allow the flag-raising that diplomats say is almost certain to obtain a majority in the 193-nation UN, despite strong opposition from both Israel and the United States.

Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah said after talks with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in Paris that the move was “a step on the road towards Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations”.

The Palestinian territories currently only have non-member observer status.

If adopted, the United Nations would have 20 days to implement the move, which would be in time for a visit by president Mahmud Abbas on September 30.

Hamdallah also told Valls he hoped France would one day “recognise a Palestinian state” — something Paris so far refuses to do.

Asked about the possibility of resuming peace talks with Israel, the premier said he saw no point unless the issue of Israeli settlements was addressed.

“We do not want to negotiate for the sake of it. If there are negotiations, we want them to have a framework,” he said.

“The most important thing is that settlement building must stop. All of the agreements that we have signed with Israel foresaw the end of settlement building, but in fact it is extending further and further, and it will end by killing off the idea of a two-state solution.”

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year, and a war in the Gaza Strip last summer left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and 73 killed on the Israeli side.