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Interpol admits Palestine as full member state

Sept. 27, 2017 1:21 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2017 7:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Interpol announced Wednesday that its General Assembly voted to admit "the State of Palestine" as a new member country of the international police organization, despite adamant opposition by Israel.

A statement on Interpol’s website said the vote brought the total number of members states of the body to 192, after the Solomon Islands was also admitted.

Interpol’s General Assembly, currently meeting in Beijing for its 86th annual session, approved each application by more than a two-thirds majority vote, the statement said. Some 75 countries voted in favor, with 24 voting against and 34 abstaining, according to reports.

During the session, Interpol said it also adopted a resolution regarding the criteria under which countries can apply for membership of the organization in the future, which includes a guideline that “a requesting country will also need to confirm that it meets the conditions for statehood.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the results of voting and the approval, and minister Riyad al-Malki thanked all members who voted in favor of the State of Palestine.

“The State of Palestine considers this membership and the responsibilities that it entails as an integral part of its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and a moral commitment to the citizens of the world,” he said, according to the Palestinian Authority's official news site Wafa.

“Palestine is ready and able to shoulder these obligations and responsibilities as an active partner in the international community, and to contribute effectively and significantly to advancing our common core values as nations.”

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.”

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi also released a statement welcoming Interpol's decision and expressed gratitude to the 75 countries that "upheld their principles and voted in favor of Palestine becoming a member of Interpol."

"Such an acceptance sends a clear message to the Israeli government that we are not population centers at its mercy; we believe in a system that is based on the global rule of law and due process, and one which enforces accountability and cooperation at the international level. We will persist in our efforts to seek membership in other multinational agencies and organizations; this is consistent with the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and statehood," she said.

A Palestinian bid to join Interpol failed last year at the annual meeting in Indonesia, along with bids Solomon Islands as well as Kosovo. All three bids were considered on the same ballot, with 62 countries voting to suspend the bid until this year, 56 voting to deal with the issue, and 37 abstaining.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the vote as a reflection of the change in Israel’s standing in the international community and credited work by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Security Council in the thwarting the PA’s application.

The Israeli foreign ministry had no immediate comment on Wednesday’s vote.

The PA obtained an observer status in Interpol in 2011, but applied for full membership in 2015.

Israel, meanwhile, has been a member of Interpol since 1949.

Israel has repeatedly opposed Palestinian efforts to join international organizations, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, accusing Palestinian officials of attempting to gain statehood recognition in indirect ways. Israel has imposed punitive measures on both Palestinians and the organizations for allowing the PA in.

Regarding Interpol specifically, Israel is concerned that if the Palestinians join they would push for arrest warrants against Israeli citizens and that sensitive information it shares with the organization could be compromised.

However, since the Oslo Accords, the PA’s security establishment has worked closely with Israel through its widely-criticized policy of security coordination that has been denounced by Palestinians as a “revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails to Israeli prisons for the same offenses.

The acceptance into Interpol also comes weeks after a failed Palestinian effort to join the World Tourism Organization. The PA withdrew that bid following diplomatic efforts by Israel that led to considerable pressure from the US to drop the attempt.
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