The Palestinians will join Interpol, the international police organization's generally assembly voted on Wednesday, clearing the way for Palestine to become a member.
Some 75 countries voted in favor, with 24 voting against and 34 abstaining. “The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now INTERPOL member countries,” Interpol said on Twitter after the vote in Beijing.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah praised the decision as a "victory for the Palestinian people" which voiced "support for their rights and their demand for independence."
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.
Environmental Protection Minister Ze'ev Elkin blasted that Palestinians for what he described as their "diplomatic war" against Israel and urged the government of which he is a cabinet member to "immediately cancel all of the goodwill gestures we have made towards that Palestinian Authority and freeze all of the special permits PA leaders use." Elkin claimed the Palestinians' decision to join Interpol was "in complete contradiction of all of the PA's commitments from the past two years."
Former foreign minister and current opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni said the Interpol vote was "a bad decision - bad for Israel and bad for the war on terror." Though she too said the move contradicted the Palestinians commitment to avoid unilateral steps while talks were still ongoing, she placed some of the blame on the Israeli government for leaving a "diplomatic vacuum" with the Palestinians. "When Israel abandons the diplomatic field – the Palestinians step up and take it, and, sadly, they also manage to win in ways that harm Israel."
In 2012, the UN 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 UN membership, but it had important legal implications in allowing the Palestinians access to international bodies, should they choose to join.
Interpol's goal is to "connect" policing forces around the world, "preventing and fighting crime through enhanced cooperation and innovation on police and security matters"