The international police organisation Interpol has voted to admit the State of Palestine as a member, despite Israeli objections.
The decision, which was announced at Interpol’s general assembly in Beijing, came despite Israeli efforts to delay a vote. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the Palestinians’ joining the global police agency contravened signed agreements with Israel.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Israel had argued that Palestine is not a state and that it is ineligible to join. Under interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals, a Palestinian Authority was granted limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Shortly before the vote in Beijing, the Israeli foreign ministry said Israel’s efforts to delay the ballot until next year had failed.
In response, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki issued the following statement: “This victory was made possible because of the principled position of the majority of Interpol members”.
According to Reuters, some Israeli media commentators have voiced concern that as an Interpol member, Palestine could ask the organization to issue a “Red Notice”, an alert to police worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest an individual, pending extradition.
But the procedure does not appear to pose serious legal problems for Israelis such as government officials and military officers whom pro-Palestinian groups have sought to have arrested by local authorities as suspected war criminals during overseas visits.
A red notice is not an international arrest warrant, and on its website Interpol notes that it cannot compel any member country to detain an individual named in one.