Palestinians Step Closer to Interpol Membership as American, Israeli Efforts to Block Fail
American and Israeli officials had hoped they would have been able to prevent it from proceeding this far, but the Palestinian application to become a member of Interpol, the international police force, remains alive. The strategy had been to convince the Interpol Executive Committee to reject the request on grounds that there is, at the moment, no state called ‘Palestine’ – statehood being a prerequisite for joining Interpol. Instead, the committee’s refusal to act places the issue on the docket of the General Assembly – considered ‘home turf’ for the Palestinians – with a good chance of passing. The US and Israel oppose allowing the Palestinians into Interpol because it represents another unilateral increment toward statehood outside the official peace process and because of concerns that the access the Palestinians would have to sensitive intelligence could compromise security. Israel also believes the Palestinians would use their position to harass Israelis with bogus law suits and criminal actions. Before there is a vote in the General Assembly on Palestinian membership, there will be a session to flesh-out the prerequisites for membership which, at present, are somewhat vague. If it results in conditions the Palestinians cannot meet, the matter will be moot for the moment. Otherwise, the Israeli – American nightmare scenario will ensue with a vote in the Palestinian-friendly General Assembly. Following Monday’s serious setback, the Trump administration turned to its Plan B and began pressuring Palestinian officials to withdraw their request to join. Two weeks ago the White House did the same thing regarding the Palestinian request to join the World Tourism Organization. The US succeeded in having the Palestinians withdraw the application after it threatened to close the Washington offices of the Fatah faction which is aligned with the Palestinian Authority. Despite reports from Ramallah that President Abbas promised President Trump he would suspend unilateral efforts at least until the US team has time to draft its plan, the Palestinian overtures to the UN Tourism Organization and Interpol; and word that the PA is bringing a case against Israel over its settlement policy to the International Criminal Court offer compelling evidence that the Palestinians have decided to proceed outside the parameters of the Trump peace efforts.