United Nations (Dec. 1)
A UN spokesman said today that the Palestine Liberation Organization was not authorized to raise a Palestinian flag yesterday in the lobby of the main UN building.
The spokesman said that according to UN rules “no flags can be used inside UN premises,” a rule that the PLO defied yesterday despite strong protests and requests by top UN officials to remove the flag and a huge map showing a Palestinian state within Israel’s borders.
According to the spokesman, the PLO’s UN representative, Zehdi Labib Terzi, refused despite repeated requests to remove the Palestinian flag, which was raised about II a.m., in honor of Palestine Week which opened here yesterday. The spokesman added that Secretary General Kurt Waldheim himself ordered the removal of the flag when the incident was brought to his attention. But the PLO refused to go along with Waldheim’s order. The PLO also reportedly defied six UN guards who tried to remove the flag and threatened to use violence against anyone trying to take down the flag.
The UN spokesman said that a “compromise” was finally reached after negotiations between the PLO and UN officials. The flag and map were transferred to the Trusteeship Chamber where a discussion on Palestinian rights was underway by members of the Committee on Palestinian Rights. The debate was the reason the flag was allowed in the chamber, the spokesman said.
Judith Dranger, Israel’s UN spokesperson, expressed Israel’s protest over the incident, charging that it proved that PLO chairman Yasir Arafat “is now running the UN.”