Palestine’s flag has been raised for the first time at United Nations headquarters in New York.
The ceremony was attended by the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas said it was unconscionable that the question of Palestinian statehood remained unresolved.
Mahmoud Abbas also warned that the Palestinian Authority no longer felt bound by agreements with Israel he claimed were “continually violated”.
He said: “As long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and to release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, they leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements.
Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Mahmoud Abbas’s speech was “deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East”.
“We expect and call on the Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of… Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.”
Mahmoud Abbas has in the past threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority (PA) and hand sole responsibility for the West Bank to Israel if there is no chance of a peace deal.
The PA was set up as an interim administration for the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after the 1993 Oslo Accord. It was envisaged that a comprehensive treaty would be concluded within five years.
However, more than two decades of talks with Israel have failed to achieve a final peace settlement and an independent Palestinian state. The last round of negotiations collapsed in April 2014.
The UN General Assembly passed a motion earlier this month to raise the Palestinian and Vatican flags. Israel voted against the motion, along with the United States and six other countries. Forty-five countries also abstained.
Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Ron Prosor, said at the time that the move was a “blatant attempt to hijack the UN”. He insisted that the only way Palestinians could achieve statehood was through direct negotiations.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to that of a “non-member observer state” – the same position that the Vatican holds.
The move followed a failed bid by the Palestinians to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.