Dec. 12 - After winning membership to UNESCO, Palestinians welcome the flying of their flag at the UN cultural agency's building in Paris, but Israel says the move will not help the peace process. Nick Rowlands reports.
Residents of the West Bank town of Ramallah look forward to a ceremonial raising of the Palestinian flag at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris due to take place on Tuesday. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RAMALLAH RESIDENT NASSER ABDEL HADI SAYING: "The Palestinian flag represents the Palestinian people. We have existed for thousands of years and we have the right to a country. The Palestinian flag represents all the Palestinian people and factions, it is a good step to help to establish a Palestinian state." But speaking from Jerusalem, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister said the ceremony would be damaging to peace prospects. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER'S SPOKESMAN MARK REGEV SAYING: "The ceremonial hoisting of a flag at UNESCO will do nothing to advance the cause of peace. Only direct negotiations can do that. And unfortunately this week, once again, the Palestinian leadership rejected an Israeli proposal to restart direct peace talks." On 31st October Palestinians won membership to UNESCO as part of their slow-moving drive for U.N. statehood recognition. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNESCO ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT KATALIN BOGYAY SAYING: "Ladies and gentlemen, the General Conference has thus voted to adopt the draft resolution and decided to admit Palestine as member of UNESCO." (APPLAUSE) Israel has called on the Palestinians to abandon their bid and return to peace talks that collapsed in September 2010 over continued Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.