Israel thwarts Palestinians’ campaign to join Interpol

Netanyahu hails Israel’s improved ‘international standing,’ vows to bring similar change to UN Security Council and other agencies

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Interpol logo
Interpol logo

Israel successfully prevented the Palestinians from joining the international police force Interpol, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday, praising the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic efforts.

“Today is a good day,” he said in the northern town of Afula, at a dedication ceremony for a new train line. “This morning we prevented the Palestinians’ bid to join Interpol. This constitutes a change in Israel’s international standing.”

The Palestinians’ request for membership will not be voted on this week, as they had wished.

Netanyahu thanked the Foreign Ministry and his National Security Council, saying that without their concerted efforts it would have been impossible to thwart Ramallah’s initiative.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 27, 2016.  (AFP Photo/Pool/Atef Safadi)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, September 27, 2016. (AFP Photo/Pool/Atef Safadi)

“The struggle to get international bodies to reflect our interests and those of many other countries will continue in the [United Nations] Security Council as well,” he vowed, apparently alluding to rumors that the world body might soon vote on a resolution regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Israel is breaking into the international arena,” Netanyahu proclaimed. “This will be reflected in all UN agencies and international organizations.”

The Palestinians wanted their request to join Interpol to come to a vote during the organization’s annual general assembly, which is taking place this week in Bali, but Jerusalem worked behind the scenes to prevent the vote.

Sixty-two Interpol member states voted against the Palestinian proposal to have a vote on their membership bid, according to a joint press release by the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police.

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

“Many others abstained, including countries that are part of the automatic pro-Palestinian majority,” the statement read. “The vote is a major achievement and reflects the change in Israel’s international status and the success of Israeli diplomacy.”

In their bid to foil the move, Israeli diplomats have been lobbying member countries, while Israel Police representatives have been speaking with their Interpol peers.

Israel fears that sensitive information could be leaked to terrorists if the Palestinians join the organization, an official in Jerusalem said last week, without giving further details.

As a policy, Israel generally attempts to block the Palestinians from joining international organizations, which would give them de facto recognition as a state.

“The Palestinians once again attempted to politicize a professional organization,” the joint statement by the Israel Police and Foreign Ministry stated Tuesday. “This is part of the ongoing Palestinian campaign to try to to evade direct negotiations, and to transfer the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to professional international bodies, which disrupts their work.”

“Interpol is an important professional organization tasked with helping its members fight crime and ensure public safety,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said last week. “It cannot be turned into a political body driven by extraneous considerations, as the Palestinians are trying to do.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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