Israel becomes Red Cross member

Red Cross partner organizations of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Monday signed an agreement of mutual recognition, paving the way for the Jewish state's entry into the Red Cross movement. The Israeli society known as the Magen David Adom, or Red Shield of David, signed the deal in Geneva with the Palestinian Red Crescent securing acceptance of the "red crystal", a new emblem the international aid agency is considering to recognize alongside the red cross and red crescent.

"It certainly does make a crucial contribution for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to achieve its ambition of universality," said Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Israel has been denied membership in the humanitarian movement for nearly six decades because it rejects the red cross used in most countries and the red crescent preferred by Muslim countries. The Palestinian society only has observer status because it is not under the jurisdiction of a recognized state.

The agreement helps pave the way for the acceptance of the new emblem by the 192 countries that have signed the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare when they meet in special session Dec. 5-6 in Geneva, said Switzerland's foreign ministry, which is hosting the conference.

Magen David Adom recognized the Palestinian Red Crescent as the national society in the Palestinian territories and both societies agreed to respect the other's jurisdiction and to operate in accordance with Red Cross rules, reports the AP. I.L.

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