Pope Francis. (AP/Gregorio Borgia) (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis
UN headquarters

UN headquarters. (Shutterstock)

The Vatican, reports say, initially joined the Palestinian request to fly its flag at the UN during the Pope’s upcoming visit, but then retracted the decision. 

In a move likely to upset Israel’s government, the Palestinians are seeking to raise their flag at UN headquarters — just in time for Pope Francis‘ visit next month.

The only two non-member observer states at the UN – the Vatican and the Palestinians – do not have a flag flying among the member nations.

The Vatican reportedly initially joined the request, but then later retracted it on Tuesday and asked the Palestinian UN mission to remove all references to it from a draft resolution prepared by the Palestinians for the General Assembly, calling for the flags of “Palestine” and the Holy See to fly at the UN.

In a note circulated to some UN members and seen by Reuters, the Vatican made clear that while it did not object to the Palestinians proposing a resolution to fly their own flag, the Holy See had no plans to join the initiative.

Supporters of the idea hope the UN General Assembly will adopt a resolution on the flag-raising shortly before the pope arrives. They’re betting that the United States or other allies of Israel will not block the plan nor risk offending the Holy See on Francis’ first US visit.

The Palestinian proposal has been tabled, and a draft of the resolution set to be made public Wednesday has been seen by The Associated Press. It would allow non-member observer states — the Vatican and the Palestinians — to display their flags with the 193 member states.

Palestinians Continue Diplomatic Warfare

This latest request by the Palestinians is part of its international campaign to fight Israel.

The US and Israel oppose recognizing the Palestinian state before the conclusion of any negotiated diplomatic settlement, saying that it undermines efforts to negotiate a peace agreement.

Many states have shown support for the Palestinians’ pursuit of statehood, including the Holy See.

Most countries in Western Europe have held off on recognizing a Palestinian state, but some have hinted that their position could change if peace efforts remain deadlocked. Most countries in Africa, Asia and South America have recognized Palestine.

Francis is scheduled to address the General Assembly on September 25, opening a gathering of world leaders to launch a set of development goals aimed at ending poverty and hunger over the next 15 years.

More than 100 heads of state and government are expected at the gathering, which leads into the annual UN General Assembly of world leaders the following week. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are scheduled to speak on the first morning.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff