The Palestinians have raised their flag on top of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) diplomatic mission in Washington in a symbolic move that will surely anger US government officials.
“We are proud to see the flag,” said the chief Palestinian envoy, Maen Areikat, who raised the flag on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
He said, “It’s about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood is raised in the United States. We hope that this will help in the international efforts to provide recognition for the Palestinian state.”
The bold measure was taken amid a groundswell of international support for the Palestinians, in which several Latin American countries have recognized Palestine as an independent state.
However, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called the move a stunt.
“Raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel,” she said in a statement.
The direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel broke down a little more than three weeks after they resumed in the US in September 2010 due to Tel Aviv’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on the construction of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
The Palestinians say that the settlement activities are being carried out to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and have conditioned any new negotiations on a complete halt on the construction.
But Washington has said it will only recognize Palestine after the two sides come to an agreement.
Areikat also acknowledged that the flag-raising will not have any practical effect on US policy.