NEW DELHI: In the words of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Wednesday is set to be "a most emotional and proud day" as the Palestinian flag is raised for the first time at the United Nations.

The UN General Assembly passed a motion earlier this month to raise the Palestinian flag, with the motion being passed by 119 countries. 45 countries abstained from the vote, and Israel, the United States and six other countries voted against it.

At the time, Israel’s representative to the UN, Ron Prosor, called the move a "blatant attempt to hijack the UN" and reiterated the Israeli position that Palestinian statehood was a matter limited to direct negotiations.

The Palestinians welcomed the move. Palestinian Authority President Abbas wrote in The Huffington Post that “The General Assembly's vote confirmed again that we, the people of Palestine, are not alone in our quest for freedom, fulfillment of our rights and an end to decades of Israeli occupation and oppression.”

“A peaceful, fair and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict exists. But the peace process must be multilateral. The same pattern of negotiations imposed for years will not work because Israel is the occupying power. Israel controls our territory, natural resources, economic affairs and our daily lives, violating every fundamental human right of the Palestinian people. We cannot directly negotiate with a power that has this level of control and exhibits such contempt for the rights and existence of our people,” Abbas said, in a statement advocating the involvement of other countries in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Palestinian leader added that raising the flag was just a first symbolic step. “On the vote to raise our flag at the U.N., the international community demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian people. Now it must act with urgency to seize the momentum from this symbolic gesture and provide a clear plan to end the illegal Israeli occupation, uphold human rights and achieve justice,” he said.

Abbas will be addressing the UNGA on Wednesday, with his article in The Huffington Post indicating that Abbas is ready to take a stronger stand in reference to Palestinian statehood. The PA has represented the Palestinians in a US brokered Israeli-Palestine peace dialogue, that faced various roadblocks and was finally called off right before Israel’s summer offensive on Gaza last year that killed over 2000 people. “While the Israeli government pays lip service to the two-state solution internationally, domestically it employs policies aimed at destroying what’s left of Palestine,” he wrote.

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

In 2012, the General Assembly upgraded the status of the Palestinians to that of non-member observer state. It followed a failed bid to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.

Today, Palestine is still not a full member state, and many feel that the symbolic move to fly the Palestinian flag is too little too late. Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian British academic and author, told Al Jazeera that the gesture was "meaningless".

"What the Palestinians need from the UN is an acknowledgement of its historic role in dispossessing the Palestinians," Tamimi said. "Our quest is not for another failing Arab state with a meaningless flag and useless institutions, but for a homeland that was stripped from us... We need the UN to atone for its sin by recognising the legitimacy of our struggle."

The flag is being raised as tensions simmer between Israel and Palestine, with a particularly tense weekend as clashes broke out over the Al Aqsa mosque compound last week. Early on Wednesday, Israel carried out a series of air strikes on Gaza, saying it was in a response to the a rocket from the enclave that had been intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system.