The Palestinians will seek to upgrade their status at the United Nations this month, bolstered by the support of Arab countries, Islamic states and the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.

Previous Palestinian attempts to improve their formal status at the global body - to become a UN observer entity with no voting rights - have failed.

"I am going this month to the UN General Assembly in light of the latest decision in Doha, the Islamic summit and the Non-Aligned Movement summit," Abbas told reporters at the Arab League. He was referring to meetings in recent weeks of Arab ministers in Qatar, Islamic states in Saudi Arabia and the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran.

A Palestinian diplomat told Reuters that Abbas was referring to securing recognition as a nonmember observer state - a first step toward recognition of a Palestinian state.

A simple majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly would be enough to bestow nonmember observer status, bypassing the Security Council - where the United States has a veto.

A similar drive for a statehood upgrade last year proved short-lived amid financial sanctions and diplomatic counter-lobbying by Israel and the United States.

"The importance of going to the General Assembly is to protect our lands by international law," Abbas said.

Palestinians say Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank land has stymied prospects for a bilateral statehood deal. Disagreement over the issue led to talks stalling in 2010.

Israel has accused Abbas's government of trying to avoid negotiations that would entail territorial compromise, and has asked it to reassert control over Gaza, which it lost in 2007 to Hamas.

Under its new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt said it backed any statehood initiative by the Palestinians. "Egypt continues to support any move decided by the Palestinian leadership to obtain full membership in the United Nations," Morsi told the Arab League in an opening address to ministers before Abbas arrived.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said on Wednesday that the league backed Abbas' bid to secure UN nonmember observer status and added that it would continue to push for full membership status for the Palestinians.

Full UN membership would, however, require approval by the Security Council - and Washington.