BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian rights groups on Thursday threw their support behind President Mahmoud Abbas' initiative to upgrade Palestine's status at the United Nations.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said Palestine's admission as a non-member state would be "a major step in the Palestinian people’s struggle for the realization of their legitimate right to self-determination and statehood on their national territory."
"The bid for becoming a non-member State was resorted to by the Palestinian leadership following political obstruction by the US which prevented Palestine to be recognized as a member State by the UN Security Council," the group said in a statement on Thursday.
"For decades the absence of the rule of international law has been the biggest obstacle to the achievement of the Palestinian People’s right to self-determination. Years of occupation and colonization have gone by despite numerous UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions," it said.
"Considering these facts on the ground, Palestine will remain a virtual State. However, the new status would be a step forward for Palestine, both politically and legally."
The press freedom group Mada also called on the international community to vote yes at the General Assembly, saying Israel's occupation inflicted "unlimited" suffering on Palestinians.
"Israel’s sustained occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967 has inflicted unlimited levels of suffering upon all segments of Palestinian society, including journalists, Mada director Mousa Rimawi said in a statement.
"Israel frequently suppresses freedom of expression in various forms, has been responsible for the deaths of dozens of Palestinian journalists since the beginning of occupation, and has severely limited the development of Palestinian media."
He expressed hope that UN membership would "aid in improving the status of media freedoms, which have been subject to significant violations throughout the year, and provide healthier conditions for the development of Palestinian media as a whole."