Israel protests, but Interpol approves Palestinian membership | News | DW | 27.09.2017
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Israel protests, but Interpol approves Palestinian membership

Interpol has voted to admit Palestine as a member over Israel's objections. The global law enforcement agency also approved a membership for the Solomon Islands at its annual general assembly.

Palestine has become a member of Interpolthe global clearinghouse for arrest warrants and police cooperation against cross-border terrorism, trafficking and other crime.

"New member countries State of Palestine and Solomon Islands bring Interpol's membership to 192," the agency announced on Twitter on Wednesday.

Israel's Foreign Ministry had attempted to delay the ballot until next year. The country waged a successful campaign of diplomatic pressure to torpedo the Palestinian Authority's 2016 bid to join Interpol.

'Voice of confidence'

Riad al-Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, promised to uphold commitments to combat crime and strengthen the rule of law. He said Interpol's members had delivered a "victory for law enforcement" through their "voice of confidence in the capacity of law enforcement in Palestine."

Top Israelis differed. "By admitting 'Palestine,' which praises terrorists of the past and refuses to condemn those of today, Interpol makes the world less safe," Deputy Diplomacy Minister Michael Oren tweeted.

Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin said Israel should cancel basic permissions for Palestinians, including work and entry permits and special travel permits for Palestinian leaders.

Media in Israel have reported that Palestinian officials could now ask Interpol to issue red notices, or worldwide police alerts seeking provisional arrests. Groups have frequently sought to have Israeli officials arrested by international authorities as suspected war criminals during overseas visits.

However, red notices do not have the status of an international arrest warrant, and on its website Interpol notes that it cannot compel any member country to detain an individual named in one.

Israeli officials continually lobby against the Palestinian Authority's efforts to join global organizations. UNESCO granted the nation full member status in 2011, prompting the US and Israel to suspend funding of the agency.

In 2012, the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian Authority's UN observer status to "nonmember state." The step fell short of full UN membership, but it had important legal implications, such as enabling Palestine to join the International Criminal Court and other world bodies. According to the Foreign Ministry, the nation has signed up for more than 50 international organizations and agreements.

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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