Interpol Votes Down PA Bid for Membership

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich during the speech to the Israeli Bar Association which has generated controversy. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel has succeeded in preventing the Palestinian Authority from joining Interpol, the international law enforcement organization. Sixty-two of the organization’s 164 voting members voted the PA’s application down, after a major Israeli diplomatic effort explaining to member states why the PA should not be allowed to join, at least at this time.

The vote took place at the organization’s 85th annual convention, held this year on the island of Bali in Indonesia. While all Arab countries, along with Turkey, voted to admit the PA, many countries that vote with the PA in other international forums abstained.

Israel for the past year has been working feverishly to prevent the Palestinian Authority from becoming a member of Interpol. The PA first applied in August 2015, but the application was pushed off by the group, which said it needed to do more research on the PA’s qualifications. Turkey last month announced it would sponsor a resolution to include the PA as a member in the organization. Israeli officials have meanwhile been contacting representatives of many of the 190 member countries, asking them to vote against the PA’s membership.

Israel argued that the PA had failed to enforce laws in its own territory, and would be unlikely to begin doing so with Interpol membership. The organization allows member countries to issue warrants for the arrest of suspects in cases where they flee to international destinations. Member countries are supposed to detain suspects and either try them locally or deport them. Israel said that it has asked the PA dozens of times to turn in terrorists, but has been refused each time.

Israel has been concerned that the PA would use its membership to demand the extradition of IDF officers who kill terrorists or act against PA-sponsored terror attacks, government officials said. “The inclusion of the PA in Interpol will politicize the organization, and this will weaken it,” one official told Channel Ten.

Speaking after the vote, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on a tour of the Galilee, said that “the struggle in international forums to show how Israel’s interests align with those of foreign nations will continue. Israel is developing relationships with nations around the world, and this will become more prominent at the UN and in other international groups.” Netanyahu praised the Foreign Ministry and the Public Security Ministry for their efforts in keeping the PA out of Interpol.