Ramallah, West Bank: Palestinian activists on Thursday officially launched their campaign to join the United Nations as a full member state, as their leaders reaffirmed plans to become the 194th member of the world body.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon some 100 members of the "National Campaign Palestine: State No. 194" asked him to accept Palestine as a full member state of the UN.

The letter was handed to officials at the UN's Ramallah office by a Palestinian refugee who has seven sons jailed by Israel for involvement in attacks, while an eighth was killed by the Israeli army.

Officials said Latifa Abu Hmeid, a 70-year-old woman was selected to deliver the document because her personal story reflects the plight of the Palestinians.

The letter urges Ban to add his "moral voice in support of the Palestinian people."

"Families of the tens of thousands of victims of Israeli occupation, including those martyred, wounded and imprisoned, and countless others who were expelled from their homes or lost their homes and their property, hope that you will exert all possible efforts toward the achievement of the Palestinian people's just demands," it says.

The activists earlier marched to the UN office chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian right to an independent state and the moral obligations which should motivate the entire world to recognise a Palestinian state.

Qalqilya governor and an organiser of the march Raeeb Khandajgee told Gulf News that several events will be held in Palestinian cities as part of the build-up to September 20, when President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to submit a formal request to the UN to accept the state of Palestine as a member.

Committees have been formed in every city to organise such activities while the UN session lasts, he said. A chair with the word Palestine embroidered on it will be flown around the world as part of the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) reiterated the need to continue the Palestinian path towards the UN to win statehood recognition.

Independence move

The campaign seeks recognition of an independent Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied east Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel rejects a return to its 1967 lines.

Any UN vote will be largely symbolic, the Palestinians believe a strong international endorsement will boost their position and put pressure on Israel should negotiations resume.

The UN General Assembly will open on September 21. Two days later, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the gathering in New York and ask for admission to the United Nations.

It remains unclear whether the Palestinians will turn to the Security Council or the General Assembly. The Council needs nine votes out of 15 and no veto from any of its permanent members to pass a decision. However, the United States, which opposes the Palestinian bid, is expected to veto any request in the Council. The Palestinians could then seek admission as a "non-member state" of the General Assembly, like the Vatican.