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October 2, 2017 12:38 pm

Interpol and the Palestinians: Where’s a Cop When You Need One?

avatar by Jonathan S. Tobin /


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly last month. Photo: UN. – The good news is that Interpol apparently isn’t the international police agency that movies and television shows have led us to believe. The bad news is that the international community just gave another seal of approval to those who traffic in terrorism.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), just as it has done at other international organizations, recently gained admittance to Interpol by an overwhelming vote of member nations.

Though the PA does autonomously govern most of the West Bank, it doesn’t exercise sovereign control over any territory. But the international community has nevertheless embraced every opportunity to grant recognition to Palestinian Arab aspirations for statehood — without first forcing them to conclude a peace with Israel that could resolve the dispute by the two peoples over one, small land.

The latest move sounds scarier than some of the others, because most of us assume that Interpol is an international police force with power to make arrests and act with impunity around the globe.

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Yet it turns out that this perception of Interpol is misleading. Interpol has no law enforcement agents, and arrests no one. It is merely a coordinating group that functions as an administration liaison between police departments of different countries. It does help fight international crime by making the large database that it maintains available to law enforcement agencies — but that’s about the extent of it.

One thing that members of Interpol can do is to issue so-called “red notices” about outstanding criminals; but these are not international arrest warrants. Nevertheless, this raises the possibility that the PA might copy the practice of leftist foes of Israel in various Western countries, who seek to indict Israeli officials on bogus allegations of war crimes.

The US has already said it won’t recognize any red notices from the PA. And since the PA is dependent on cooperation with Israeli security agencies to defend themselves against Hamas and more radical opponents, this would be a risky strategy. If the PA does use the tactic, it would probably be directed against Palestinian political foes, rather than Israelis.

Seen in that light, the Interpol vote can be viewed as just another meaningless gesture that does nothing to advance peace — or Palestinian aspirations for actual statehood.

But the decision is not entirely harmless — because the same PA that just joined Interpol actually funds terrorism.

The PA pays salaries and pensions to Palestinians who commit terrorism against Israelis and others (including Americans). This program has an ascending scale of compensation, which gives greater rewards for more serious crimes involving bloodshed. The PA’s education system and official media also incite hate, and applaud acts of terror on a regular basis.

Just last week, Abbas’ Fatah party lauded a deadly attack that resulted in the killing of an Israeli Border Police officer and two security guards, one of whom was an Arab Israeli. And now, the family of the slain terrorist can expect a generous pension from the PA.

Though some excuse this practice of paying terrorists as a legitimate aspect of their political culture, it is one more indication that Palestinians are still stuck fighting the same war on Zionism and Israel that they’ve been fighting for a century. And it illustrates the folly of any policy towards the Palestinians that does not start with an effort to impress upon them the necessity to accept the existence of a Jewish state. Until Israel makes it clear that its existence is conclusive and final, no peace plan, including a two-state solution, will be possible.

Unlike its predecessor, the Trump administration has made it clear that it regards the PA’s attitude toward terror as an impediment to peace. Congress might be on its way to passing the Taylor Force Act, which is named for an American veteran who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist; the bill would make future aid to the PA contingent on ending its incitement and terror funding.

But with the Interpol vote, the world has once again sent the opposite message to the Palestinians about terror and ending the conflict. A group that honors and pays terrorists rather than arresting them just joined the international law enforcement establishment. Israelis, Jews and Americans that are targeted for death by Palestinians are justified in wondering: where’s a cop when you need one?

Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

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