Palestinian Authority and Israel lock heads over PA attempt to join Interpol

The Palestinians gained observer status at the United Nations General Assembly in 2012; garnering 138 votes out of the 193-member body.

November 3, 2016 19:34
2 minute read.

The Interpol logo. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel and the Palestinian Authority are engaged in diplomatic efforts ahead of the November 7th Interpol General Assembly, where the PA is hoping join the international policing organization and Israel is attempting to stop the bid.

As a general policy, Israel works to block Palestinian membership to international organizations. Israeli officials have expressed concerns that PA Police officers will leak information to terrorist groups.

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Officials on both sides have accused the other of politicizing the organization. “We have our policing requirements and the legal rights of a state that wants to abide by international law,” Dr. Husam Zomlot, strategic adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“Israel is politicizing the body,” he said.

Israeli diplomats are extensively lobbying Interpol members to reject the Palestinian Authority’s bid, either by having it thrown out on technical grounds or by swaying one-third of the 190 member states against the Palestinian membership bid, which requires a two-thirds vote to be approved.

The Palestinians gained observer status at the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, garnering 138 votes out of the 193-member body.

In a meeting with Russian officials in Moscow on Monday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan sought to ensure Russian support of the Israel stance regarding the Palestinian bid.

“[Interpol] cannot be turned into a political body driven by extraneous considerations, as the Palestinians are trying to make it,” Erdan said. Israel is hoping to convince Russia to vote against the Palestinian bid as Kosovo, a country Russia does not recognize, is also seeking membership.

Nevertheless, Zomlot expressed confidence that the PA Police will successfully join Interpol at the 85th general assembly held in Bali, Indonesia from November 7 to 10. “The technical side of the process will take time, but we have many allies and friends on our side. I am 100% sure that the police are ready to join Interpol,” Zomlot said.

He would not specify who will support the Palestinian bid; however, Turkey has been spearheading the Palestinian bid. At a board meeting last month, Turkey ensured the Palestinian petition to join Interpol would be brought to a vote at the general assembly.

The European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support, which is tasked with supporting the reform and development of the Palestinian police, has been cited in multiple media reports as helping to prepare the Palestinian police to join Interpol. A 2014 job announcement from the office shows that they sought an “Interpol expert,” tasked with supporting the Palestinian Interior Ministry to strengthen its capacity and mechanisms to meet Interpol standards. It is unclear if the position was filled.

The office’s press officer, Jonathan Crikx, declined to comment on the PA’s Interpol bid, citing diplomatic sensitivities, and said that his organization has no mandate regarding Interpol. Jerusalem contends that the PA effort is part of a strategy to seek recognition in international organizations, to bypass direct talks with Israel.

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