Interpol approves Palestinian membership, angering Israel

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.

The decision drew an angry Israeli reaction and threat of retaliation. It also raised concerns that the Palestinians might use their elevated status to seek the arrests of Israelis, though Palestinian officials said there were no immediate plans to do so.

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.

Over Israeli objections, the U.N. General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012. Since then, the Palestinians have sought to join various U.N. and international bodies to buttress their dream of gaining independence. Israel has condemned the campaign as an attempt to bypass negotiations.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki hailed Wednesday’s vote as a “victory for law enforcement” and a “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.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision “seriously harms the chances to achieve peace.”

In a meeting with U.S. Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, Netanyahu also said the “diplomatic warfare” carried out by the Palestinians will not go unanswered.

He did not elaborate. But earlier, Cabinet Minister Zeev Elkin, a close Netanyahu ally, said Israel should cancel gestures granted to the Palestinians, such as permits to work and enter Israel, and special travel permits for Palestinian leaders.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called it “another failure” for Netanyahu.

In Washington, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that the Palestinian membership could harm peace efforts.

He said he was concerned that the Palestinians would now issue Interpol “red notices,” which the U.S. Justice Department describes as the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today.

“The international community has a great deal at stake in pursuing the…

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