Palestine gets Interpol membership, Israel faces setback

Beijing: In a nipping diplomatic defeat for Israel, the world’s largest international police organization on Wednesday accepted the “State of Palestine” as a full member.

“The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now INTERPOL member countries,” an Interpol tweet read.

The Palestinians’ membership bid was accepted with 75 counties voting yes, 24 voting no, and 34 abstaining during Interpol’s annual General Assembly in Beijing.

Israel aggressively objected to the Palestinians joining Interpol, arguing that Palestine is not a state and Ramallah’s alleged support for terrorism could hinder rather than aid Interpol’s efforts.  The US administration, too, objected to Ramallah’s membership bid and helped Israel lobby against it.

“This victory was made possible because of the principled position of the majority of Interpol members,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said in a statement.

“On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law,” Maliki said.

Maliki stressed that “the State of Palestine will continue to struggle to raise the status and role of Palestine at the international level and defend the rights of our people in security and freedom by all diplomatic and legal means available and including joining the relevant international institutions.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization said on Twitter that more than 75 percent of Interpol members voted to approve membership.

On Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would again put forward a resolution for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations, after a failed bid in 2011.

The Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem did not immediately comment on the matter.

According to The Times of Israel, in the first official Israeli response, Environmental Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin urged the government to immediately suspend all commitments and goodwill gestures to the PA the cabinet had agreed to implement over the last two years. “One cannot wage war against us and incite against us here and in the world and at the same time enjoy gestures from the State of Israel,” he said in a statement.

In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to “non-member state” from “entity”, like the Vatican.

The step fell short of full U.N. membership, but it had important legal implications in allowing the Palestinians access to international bodies, should they choose to join.

Interpol, the world’s biggest international organization after the United Nations, enables member states to exchange intelligence and to work together to find ways to cope with international crime, from terrorism to human trafficking.