OECD approves Israel membership bid

Israeli officials hail the vote as a "stamp of approval" for their economy.

    The vote came despite opposition from several OECD member states and human rights groups [AFP]

    Yuval Steinitz, Israel's finance minister, said the OECD's vote is of "immense importance" in an interview with Israel's Army Radio.

    Other Israeli officials described the vote as a "stamp of approval" for their economy.

    Scattered opposition

    The unanimous vote came despite scattered opposition from several OECD member states, Palestinian officials, and international human rights groups.

    Three OECD members - Switzerland, Ireland and Norway - expressed concerns about the economic data Israel provided as part of the OECD accession process.

    All three states said they were concerned that the data included statistics from settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem - land outside Israel's recognised borders.

    Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, reportedly called the heads of many OECD states over the weekend to lobby against Israel's membership.

    Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian Authority's minister of foreign affairs, warned in a letter to OECD members last week that accepting Israel would legitimise "dangerous" and "racist" policies towards Palestinians.

    Several human rights groups also urged the OECD to reject Israel.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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