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Interpol approves Palestinian membership bid

Secret ballot seen as diplomatic win for Palestinian statehood, as Israel was actively seeking to postpone the vote.

Interpol

Interpol has approved the Palestinian Authority's membership bid, a new victory in its drive for international representation despite strong Israeli opposition.

Israel lobbies hard against Palestinian efforts to join global organisations to advance their goal of statehood. It claimed victory last year when the Palestinian bid to join the global police body was suspended.

Interpol approved the Palestinian application along with a bid by the Solomon Islands during its annual general assembly in Beijing on Wednesday.

"New member Countries State of Palestine and Solomon Islands bring Interpol's membership to 192," it said on its Twitter account.

It did not detail the voting but candidacies require the approval of a two-thirds majority of countries present at the general assembly, excluding abstentions.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation's negotiations affairs department said on Twitter they had received more than 75 percent of the vote.

"Palestine's membership is the outcome of members defending this organisation's raison d'etre and advancing its core values, and a clear rejection of attempts at cynical manipulation and political bullying," Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said in a statement.

Israel's foreign ministry did not immediately comment.

Palestine gained observer status at the United Nations in 2012 and since then has joined more than 50 international organisations and agreements, according to the Palestinian foreign ministry.

Among them are the International Criminal Court and the United Nations heritage body UNESCO.

Interpol, which is based in the French city of Lyon, eases the exchange of information between police forces and issues "red notices" - non-binding notifications of arrest warrants - at the request of a member state or an international tribunal.

'Israel blocks progress'

Senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub had told AFP news agency on Sunday that "we're looking to be in all of the international institutions, including Interpol, as an organised state."

"We are looking for the Palestinian state to be a positive contributor toward security and stability in the region and in the international community," he said.

Regarding Israel's opposition, he said: "They don't want any progress toward a Palestinian state."

"Israel does not want us to be in FIFA. How would they want us to be in Interpol?" he said.

Alan Baker, a former senior Israeli diplomat and legal expert, said the membership application was "just a political PR move" on the part of the Palestinians.

"Because they're not interested in negotiating (with Israel) they're trying to achieve the end result, which is a state, through international organisations," he said ahead of Wednesday's vote.

Baker rejected the notion that Palestinians would be able to initiate arrest warrants at will against Israelis by joining Interpol.

He said the attempt by the Palestinians "to politicise what is a super-professional organisation is very harmful to Interpol".


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