Israeli Ambassador: UN ‘Would Vote to Declare That the Earth is Flat, if the Palestinians Proposed it’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 11, 2015 | 1:55am EDT
Flags of member states fly in front of the United Nations headquarters building in New York City. Within days the Palestinian flag will be raised among them. (U.N. Photo by J.C. McIlwaine, File)

( – Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. slammed the world body Thursday for voting to allow the Palestinian flag to fly at its headquarters, accusing member-states of submitting to the Palestinian leadership’s “every whim and caprice.”

“Time and again, the Palestinians use and abuse the U.N.” said Ron Prosor. “The sad part is that you – you in this chamber – allow them to get away with it.”

“This assembly would vote to declare that the earth is flat if the Palestinians proposed it,” he said.

Prosor was speaking after the General Assembly voted 119-8 to allow the flags of “non-member observer states” to fly among those of member-states in New York and at other U.N. offices, a decision that was met by enthusiastic applause in the chamber.

The U.N. only recognizes two “non-member observer states,” the Palestinian entity and the Holy See. The Vatican was not a party to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) initiative and earlier asked that its name be removed from the draft resolution.

Although called in U.N. parlance “the State of Palestine,” the self-rule authority presided over by Mahmoud Abbas is neither a sovereign state nor a U.N. member-state.

But is enjoys strong support in the General Assembly, which in 2012 upgraded its status from “observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”

Thursday’s eight “no” votes came from the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Tuvalu. Forty-five countries, mostly in Europe and the Caribbean, abstained.

In his speech – his last at the U.N. after four years of representing Israel in New York – Prosor said the issue at stake was less the raising of the Palestinian flag than the raising by the U.N. of a “white flag” of surrendering its principles.

He charged that the flag initiative had violated the U.N.’s established rules and procedures.

Prosor cited rushed drafting, a lack of the standard consultation or negotiation of language among member states, and the abortive attempt to co-opt the Holy See.

“The Palestinian delegation simply announced their plan, promoted it in a dishonest and manipulative manner, and expected member states to fall in line behind them,” he said, adding that it had furthermore “deliberately deceived member states.”

“When they introduced their initiative, the Palestinians informed member states that the Vatican was a partner in their plan. Apparently, the Vatican did not get the memo.”

“As a matter of fact, the Vatican declared that they are not a partner to this initiative, they didn’t ask for it, and they have no aspiration to raise their flag at the U.N.,” he said.

Prosor urged the international community to tell the P.A. to return to the negotiating table: “Enough with empty symbols, enough with political showmanship, enough with hijacking the U.N. agenda. Stop stalling, and start negotiating.”

'International consensus in favor of Palestinian independence'

Israel, the U.S. and other countries that voted against the resolution object to the U.N. taking decisions which they say bypass a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Explaining her no vote, U.S. ambassador Samantha Power said the U.S. was voting neither in favor of the status quo nor against “Palestinian aspirations for statehood.”

“Our vote reflects the reality that the parties themselves must ultimately take the constructive, responsible steps required to achieve a two-state solution and end the cycle of violence and suffering that has persisted for far too long in the Middle East,” she said.

Palestinian envoy Riad Mansour welcomed the “historic vote,” which he called “yet another significant step in affirming the international consensus in favor of Palestinian independence.”

“The Palestinian people are in despair as they continue to suffer under Israel’s nearly half-century foreign occupation,” he said, accusing Israel of persisting “in the illegal colonization and siege of our land and the cruel subjugation of our people.”

“Yet, even in the midst of these grim realities, we are proud to say that the will and spirit of the Palestinian people has not been broken,” Mansour said. “And, at this critical moment, as they have come to the international community once again peacefully appealing for support of this symbolic yet significant step to raise their national flag at the United Nations, we are grateful that this appeal has been so rightly fulfilled.”

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