Israel says blocked Palestinian bid to join Interpol

A man passes an Interpol logo during the handing over ceremony of the new premises for Interpol's Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An attempt by the Palestinians to push for membership of global police organization Interpol was rejected in a vote at the body’s congress in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, the Israeli police and foreign ministry said.

Israel said its diplomacy had convinced a majority of Interpol members to vote against putting the Palestinian request to join on the meeting’s agenda. The Palestinians said the rejection was only a procedural issue.

Sixty-two delegates at the meeting voted against the Palestinian request, 56 in favor and 37 abstained.

“Once again the Palestinians have tried to politicize an international professional organization,” a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said.

But Ammar Hejazi, a Palestinian delegate at the congress, said the body would discuss its membership bid next year.

“(Our request) was not achieved in this session because the Interpol Executive Committee said it would study new membership requests next year,” he told Palestine Radio.

Interpol’s Executive Committee said it had appointed an adviser to recommend “a clear and transparent process with a defined set of criteria for membership” and no new applicants would be considered until a meeting in Beijing in 2017.

“While the study is being carried out, all current and future applications for membership including those from the Republic of Kosovo, the State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands have been suspended,” Interpol said.

Israel has been wary of Palestinian efforts to join international bodies and gain the attributes of statehood “through the back door”, an Israeli official said. It is already a member of the International Criminal Court in the Hague and various other international bodies and associations.

Israel insists direct negotiations with the Palestinians are the only path toward Palestinian statehood. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.

“This attempt forms part of the ongoing Palestinian campaign to evade direct negotiations with Israel and to continue the conflict with Israel inside professional international bodies,” the foreign ministry said.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a prominent issue at world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, where the Palestinians have pushed for sanctions against Israel.

Hejazi said Israel could not stop the Palestinians from joining any international bodies.

“They (Israel) are trying to score fake and unreal victories, they are selling their people illusions,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, writing by Ori Lewis)