The decision was reached with a two thirds majority vote during Interpol’s general assembly last weekend in Rio de Janeiro.
Interpol is usually divided into regions according to continents. A significant number of police operations and information exchange occur within the regions.
Israel has thus far belonged to the Asian region of Interpol, making it difficult to carry out actual police collaborations in things such as joint investigations, legal requests, extraditions, and information exchange, especially since the majority of Israel’s international police operations are in European countries.
For this reason, in 2001, the Israeli police force, with the help of Interpol’s Jerusalem unit and Israel’s police representatives in Europe, prompted an initiative to move Israel into the European region.
'Most international operations occur in Europe'The Foreign Ministry joined the effort through its European ambassadors. Israel’s addition process was comprised of two main steps, the first being acceptance of Israel’s services by the European region, and the second being a final approval at Interpol’s annual general assembly.
The issue of Israel’s addition to Interpol’s European region was raised three months ago in the region’s annual conference in Lyon. Israeli police representatives attended the conference and gave speeches explaining why Israel should be added to the European region.
A deliberation and secret vote followed. A majority of 28 votes (76 percent) were for Israel being added to the European region. Four votes were opposing, and 5 countries refrained from voting.
The decision was brought to Interpol’s general assembly in Brazil this weekend for approval. Israel’s representative, Major-General Yohanan Danino, head of the Israel Police's investigations and intelligence, surveyed Israel’s police operations at the assembly, saying that 70 percent of Israel's international operations occur in Europe, and not in Asia.
Itamar Eichner contributed to the report