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UN votes to hoist Palestine flag

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted to raise the Palestinian flag at the body's headquarters in New York.

A resolution was passed with 119 votes in favour, 45 abstentions and 8 votes against.

The text of the resolution allows the flags of Palestine and the Holy See - both of which have non-member observer status - to be raised alongside those of the member states.

"It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN, ahead of the vote.

Mr Mansour further said the initiative had the potential to "give our people some hope that the international community is still supporting the independence of the state of Palestine.

"Things are bleak, gloomy, the political process is dead, Gaza is being suffocated. This flag resolution is like the small light of a candle to keep hope alive for the Palestinian people."

The US and Israel were amongst the countries that voted against the resolution, while the UK, Germany and several other EU member states abstained.

France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Slovenia were among the EU states that voted in favour.

Israel's UN representative Ron Prosor said the resolution was a "blatant attempt to hijack the UN", insisting that the only way Palestinians could achieve statehood was through direct negotiations.