05 October 2017 |
In a diplomatic blow to Israel, the world’s largest police organization, Interpol, has admitted Palestine as its newest member. The vote took place during the recent 86th Interpol General Assembly, which ended last week in China (click here for a Times of Israel article).
Israel, in collaboration with the USA, sought to bar Palestine from entering the international policing body. Last year, when Interpol held its congress in Indonesia, Israel tried to prevent Palestine but, this time round, due to efforts by Palestinian and South African representatives, among others, Israel was isolated in the final vote with an overwhelming majority of countries voting in favor of the Palestinians: 75 nations voted in favor of the State of Palestine, 24 voted against, and 34 abstained. With the Interpol vote having taken place in secret, the defeat is even more bitter a blow to Israel – countries are not willing to be seen with the regime both in public and in private!
BDS SA members, who were in China last week, were informed by Palestinian representatives that the South African Government and SA delegates to Interpol played a significant role with other African countries in lobbying for and supporting the Palestinian bid. In a message posted on FaceBook, South African Police Service (SAPS) Colonel Smanga Simelane explained:
“History was made today when South Africa led a spirited campaign for the admission of the state of Palestinian [sic] as a member of Interpol. The USA and Israel threw everything [in an attempt] for Interpol not to accept Palestine…after South Africa spoke in favour of Palestine being an Interpol member other countries followed and the fight back, led by SA, isolated the USA and Israel alliance and suffocated it, resulting in Palestine being accepted as a fully-fledged Interpol member. The SA delegation also wants to thank Minister [of Police] Mbalula for throwing the first punch when he addressed Interpol last month where he called on Interpol to accept Palestine as a member [click here to watch video]. The SA delegation is proud of this achievement as it reflects SA government policy in this regard and want to thank Minister Mbalula and the SA government!”
Palestinians have welcomed the vote, with Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, saying: “We thank our South African counterparts under the leadership of South Africa’s Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, South Africa’s National Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba, Africa’s representative to Interpol Brigadier Anbuen Naidoo and all others for their sterling efforts. This vote marks another triumph for the Palestinians and another defeat for Israel, Israel is increasingly isolated on the international stage with the majority of peace and justice loving peoples and countries siding with the just struggle of our people.”
Israel, that previously celebrated last year in 2016 when Palestine was unsuccessful in joining Interpol, has, this time, remained quiet with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu only saying that the “diplomatic warfare” carried out by the Palestinians will not go unanswered (click here for China Daily article). Israeli Minister Ze’ev Elkin followed this up by saying: “Israel cannot stand idle in the face of the Palestinians’ diplomatic warfare”. In part Israel fears that Palestine could use its membership to take action against Israeli officials and IDF (Israel Defense Forces) military officers for war crimes among other crimes.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently boasted that Israel’s standing in the international community has never been better, “we have many friends,” he declared last week Sunday. However, South Africa’s ruling party’s recommendation to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv (click here), the recent indefinite postponement of the Africa-Israel summit (click here) and last week’s Interpol vote are all signs of Israel’s increasing diplomatic defeats and isolation. In related news, the 2017 BBC international public opinion poll, Globescan, was recently published showing Israel as the fourth least popular country in the world (click here).
The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization BDS South Africa joins our Palestinians friends and other South African civil society groups in commending the South African government, the South African Minister of Police, our National Police Commissioner, our representatives to Interpol as well as, of course, our Palestinian counterparts for this Palestinian victory and stinging defeat to US and Israeli bullying.
ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA