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More than 60 years after Israel, Palestine joins Interpol

Palestine admitted into world policing body by majority vote - despite Israeli objections - in latest step towards full statehood
A Palestinian delegate is presented with an Interpol flag by Meng Hongwei (R), the policing body's current president (AFP)

Palestine took a further step towards wider international recognition on Wednesday when it was admitted to Interpol following a vote by member states at the world policing body's general assembly in China.

In a statement on its website, Interpol said that Palestine's application for membership had been approved by more than the required two-thirds majority at the meeting in Beijing.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said on Twitter that more than three-quarters of member states had voted in the secret ballot in favour of Palestinian membership.

The PLO also said Palestinian membership "signifies our commitment to international accountability and the rule of law".

The Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands was also admitted, taking the number of Interpol member states to 192.

“This victory was made possible because of the principled position of the majority of Interpol members,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said in a statement.

“On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law."

Israel, a member of Interpol since 1956, attempted to block a vote on Palestinian membership by contending that Palestine, which has had non-member state observer status at the United Nations General Assembly since 2012, was ineligible for membership.

Palestine is already a member of dozens of international organisations including Unesco, the UN cultural agency, and the International Criminal Court.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday criticised Interpol's decision to admit the Palestinian Authority as a member, saying it would weaken the global police body's anti-terror capabilities.

"This decision will harm Interpol's ability to fight international terror," his office quoted him as saying a conference call with American Jewish leaders.

"This is not a decision based on professional need. It is absolutely a political decision," he told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a call to mark the Jewish high holidays.

In a resolution confirming Palestine's membership, Interpol said it would be "part of Asia for the purposes of participation in the regional conferences and membership of the executive commitee".

Israel is grouped with Interpol's European member states and maintains an Interpol office in Jerusalem.

Palestine would contribute 0.03 percent to Interpol's budget in 2018, the resolution also said.

The Palestine page of the Interpol website on Wednesday (screengrab)
Interpol describes its role as enabling "police around the world to work together to make the world a better place" and has a policy of political neutrality.

"At Interpol, we aim to facilitate international police cooperation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries," it says in a statement on its website.

A page on the Interpol website listed Palestine as a member since 27 September 2017.