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Eyeing graft cases, Palestinians apply to join Interpol

Ramallah says it seeks membership in worldwide crime-fighting organization to help nab those wanted for corruption abroad

Palestinian police patrol in the West Bank town of Azariyeh, April 13, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinian police patrol in the West Bank town of Azariyeh, April 13, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

The Palestinian Authority made a formal request to join Interpol, the worldwide crime-busting organization, in the latest of a series of measures designed to boost Ramallah’s international statehood effort.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah signed the request as he also fills the position of interior minister, according to Palestinian media.

In applying to join Interpol, of which Israel is also a member, the Palestinians pledged to maintain international law and all the regulations of Interpol, according to a statement carried by Ramallah’s official publishing arm Wafa Monday night.

According to Wafa, the PA plans on using membership in Interpol to gain extradition orders so that it can collar Palestinians wanted around the world on suspicion of internal Palestinian crimes such as corruption.

Ramallah previously applied to join Interpol in 2011, but was only granted observer status because it does not have control of its borders, according to Bethlehem-based news outlet Ma’an.

Palestinian interior ministry official Ahmed al-Rabie said in January that the PA would apply to join sometime in 2015, seeking the ability to fight international crimes, terrorism, money laundering, corruption, arms trade and human trafficking, according to Ma’an.

After nine months of US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians fell apart in April 2014, the PA embraced a policy of seeking membership in international organizations and bodies including, among others, the International Criminal Court, of which it became a member of in April.

Israel opposes these unilateral moves toward gaining international recognition of a Palestinian state.

Earlier Monday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki reported Friday’s deadly Duma firebombing attack, apparently carried out by Jewish settlers, to the ICC.

The Palestinian report addressed attacks on Palestinians by Jewish settlers in general, as well as Friday’s attack on the Dawabsha family, in which an 18-month-old toddler was killed.

PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told The Times of Israel that the document, which relied on reports by human rights groups on settler violence, represents a “new format.”

Al-Maliki also met with ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for over an hour, and described the meeting as the most productive to date, according to Ma’an.

Ashrawai said the meeting was scheduled after the fatal firebombing.

Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have also agreed to draft a joint appeal to the UN Security Council demanding “international protection for the Palestinian people and an end to the Israeli occupation” in response to the Duma attack.

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