The world witnessed a poignant moment at the United Nations Headquarters this week as the Palestinian flag was raised along with those of member nations, marking a symbolic victory for the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel’s oppressive policies.

Calling it “a historic day”, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas presided over the crowded ceremony along with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Spectators included French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and other diplomats from around the globe.

Back home in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, hundreds gathered to raise cheers and wave flags as they watched the televised ceremony.

On September 10, the UN General Assembly, backed by 119 countries, voted to allow the flags of Palestine and the Vatican, both designated as observer states, to fly alongside the national banners of member states.

The eight major votes against this decision included the United States, Israel and Australia. They described the symbolic gesture as pointless, commenting that it would in no way serve the cause of peace.

The UN Secretary General emphasized the need for re-igniting the stalled peace talks in the Middle East, asserting that the time had come for resolving the conflict and realizing the goal of a two-state solution.

Mr. Abbas reiterated his stance that Palestine “deserves full recognition and full membership”, vowing he would not rest till that milestone was reached. Israel’s refusal to stop settlements and release political prisoners has led to an escalation in tensions. In a recent survey, most Palestinians appear to be disgruntled or outright enraged by Israel’s right-wing government, favouring a return to armed resistance as opposed to returning to the negotiating table; a trend that should start ringing alarm bells for all those concerned.