Palestine joined Interpol as a member state on Wednesday, a move opposed by Israel, in a vote at the international police organisation’s general assembly in Beijing, Interpol said. “The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now INTERPOL member countries,” an Interpol tweet read.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which said earlier that Israel’s efforts to delay a vote until next year had failed, had no immediate comment on the decision.
Israel had contended that Palestine is not a state and that it is ineligible for Interpol membership. Under interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals, a Palestinian Authority was granted limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“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.
The Palestine Liberation Organization said on Twitter that more than 75 percent of Interpol members voted to approve membership.
“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,” Maliki said.
In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to “non-member state” from “entity”, like the Vatican.
The step fell short of full U.N. membership, but it had important legal implications in allowing the Palestinians access to international bodies, should they choose to join.