For second time, Interpol member state arrests fugitive at Palestinians’ behest

Senior Ramallah official says the PA is not pursuing the extradition of Israelis through the international policing group

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. (CC BY-SA Massimiliano Mariani/Wikipedia)
Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. (CC BY-SA Massimiliano Mariani/Wikipedia)

For the second time, an Interpol member state arrested a fugitive at the behest of the Palestinian Authority earlier this month, a senior official in the PA Attorney General’s Office said.

Despite Israel’s opposition, the PA was admitted to Interpol, an international policing group, in September 2017.

After Interpol alerted its member states about a Palestinian arrest warrant for the fugitive, who has been accused of theft, Jordanian authorities collared and extradited him to the West Bank, Ibrahim Hamouda, the head of the Interpol file in the PA Attorney General’s Office, told the Times of Israel in a recent interview.

Interpol had informed its member states about the arrest warrant following a request from the PA to do so, he said.

Illustrative photo of a bustling Manara Square, one of the main streets in downtown Ramallah. (Photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90)

In mid-August, another Interpol member state arrested a male fugitive convicted of rape at the behest of the PA.

A statement from the PA Attorney General’s Office at the time did not identify the name of the convict or the Interpol member state that arrested him. However, it mentioned that he was detained at an international airport.

Hamouda said that the PA has asked Interpol to inform its member states about arrest warrants for approximately 100 Palestinian fugitives.

When asked if the list included Muhammed Dahlan, a top rival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamouda said he could not reveal specific names.

In September 2017, a senior PA official told the Associated Press that the Palestinians would attempt to extradite Dahlan to the West Bank through Interpol.

In late 2016, a PA court sentenced Dahlan in absentia to three years in prison on corruption charges. At the time, Sevag Torossian, one of Dahlan’s lawyers, told AFP that the court’s ruling was a part of “Abbas’s ‘liquidation plan’ at the expense of his opponents.”

Dahlan fled the West Bank in 2011 after PA security forces raided his home in the Ramallah area.

In a phone call on Wednesday, Torossian said extraditing Dahlan would be a violation of Interpol’s mandate.

Mohammed Dahlan gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

“Extraditing Mr. Dahlan would politicize Interpol’s work and be in violation of Article 3 of its treaty,” he said.

Article 3 of Interpol’s constitution states: “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Hamouda also said that the PA has not taken any action to pursue the extradition of Israelis through Interpol.

“We are not pursuing any Israelis,” he said. “We can only pursue persons who we can prosecute in Palestinian courts. Under the Oslo Accords, Israelis cannot be brought before a Palestinian court.”

The Oslo II agreement signed in 1995 states: “The territorial and functional jurisdiction of the [PA] will apply to all persons, except for Israelis, unless otherwise provided in this Agreement.”

Late last year, PA Police Chief Hazem Atallah told reporters that the PA would not seek the extradition of Israelis through Interpol.

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