Red Cross approves new emblem, allowing Israel to join

The Red Cross and Red Crescent movements on Wednesday gained an additional emblem that paves the way for Israel to join the global relief network after nearly six decades of exclusion. The 192 signatories of the Geneva Conventions approved the new “red crystal” emblem – a diamond-shaped red crystal on a white – into which the Red Star of David of the Israeli relief agency Magen David Adom (MDA) can be placed. “I can inform you that the protocol has just been adopted,” said Didier Pfirter, a Swiss diplomat who has been coordinating global efforts to muster support for the new emblem. Magen David Adom Chairman Dr. Noam Yifrach said Israel’s membership in the Red Cross will improve MDA’s service within Israel and will allow access to international funds and medical knowledge. Twenty-nine nations voted for the new symbol and 27 voted against the move, most of them Arab states. Ten countries also abstained from voting on the matter. The new emblem is one that, for instance, Israeli paramedics could use during combat in place of the red cross or Muslim red crescent. The signatories voted to accept the symbol after last-ditch negotiations between Israel and Syria over Damascus’ demands for humanitarian access to Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights broke down. “Unfortunately, it has not been possible to adopt the protocol by consensus, but it has been adopted by a clear majority,” Pfirter said.