PARIS (AP) — International police agency Interpol voted Wednesday to include Palestine as a member state, in a new boost to Palestinian efforts for international recognition and influence amid long-stalled negotiations with Israel for full statehood.
Interpol announced the inclusion of the “State of Palestine” as well as the Solomon Islands on Twitter and its website Wednesday after a vote by its general assembly in Beijing.
With the new votes, Interpol will have 192 member countries. Interpol didn’t immediately announce how many members supported Palestinian membership.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki hailed the vote as a “victory for law enforcement” and “voice of confidence in the capacity of law enforcement in Palestine.” He promised to uphold Palestinian commitments to combating crime and strengthening the rule of law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office didn’t immediately comment on the vote, which comes after Palestinians won recognition in other world bodies. Opponents say recognizing Palestine in international organizations undermines negotiations with Israel for full statehood.
Zeev Elkin, Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection and a close associate of Netanyahu, said in retaliation for the Palestinians joining Interpol, Israel should cancel gestures granted to the Palestinians, including work and entry permits, and special travel permits for Palestinian leaders.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called it “another failure” for Netanyahu.
The U.N. General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012. UNESCO approved it as a full member in 2011, prompting the U.S. and Israel to suspend funding of the U.N. cultural agency.
The Palestinian prime minister applied for Interpol membership in 2015, and submitted a formal letter this July promising not to use the organization “for any political, military, racial or religious interventions or activities” and promising to cooperate with Interpol activities, according to minutes of the Interpol meeting.
The approval vote requires the Palestinians to pay membership dues worth 0.03 percent of the Interpol budget.
Interpol, based in Lyon, France, is an international clearing house for arrest warrants and police cooperation against cross-border terrorism, trafficking and other crime.
Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed.