Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Tuesday evening with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris after symbolically hoisting the Palestinian flag at the headquarters of UNESCO, at a ceremony marking Palestine’s admission to the UN cultural and education body.
"This is truly a historic moment," Abbas said during the ceremony attended by about 50 guests. "This admission is a first recognition of Palestine. I hope that this will be a good omen for Palestine's admission to other international organizations," he added.
"It is moving to see our flag raised and for it to be flying in this beautiful city of Paris among all the other states,” he told UNESCO ambassadors.
The Palestinians previously had observer status in UNESCO.
In September, the Palestinians sought full membership in the United Nations but the UN Security Council is still considering the bid.
The United States halted its payments to UNESCO following the October vote to grant full membership to the Palestinians under legislation that prohibits US funding to UN agencies that agree Palestinian statehood status.
UNESCO approved the Palestinian admission during its general assembly in Paris by a vote of 107 to 14, with the United States, Canada and Germany among those voting against the resolution. France voted in favour.
The Israeli embassy in Paris said "Israel regrets that an organization responsible for education and science was at the heart of making a decision based on science fiction by integrating an entity that has no legal status as a state.”