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Red Cross Gives Observer Status to Magen David Adom, PLO Group

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Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, is making the most of its presence at the biennial General Assembly of the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which opened here last Saturday and will end Oct. 27.

The three-member delegation, headed by Arieh Harell, the society’s president, have observer status at the conclave, which is being attended by more than 40 delegates from 120 national societies.

The Israelis are making valuable contacts and holding meetings with senior representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross aimed at developing bilateral relations.

The hope is to gain the ICRC’s recognition of the Israeli first-aid agency’s symbol, the red Star of David, which has been denied for more than 40 years, although recognition has been accorded the Red Crescent, the Islamic counterpart of the Red Cross.

The MDA has expressed consternation that observer status on the same level of protocol was granted to the Palestinian Red Crescent, an adjunct of the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Dr. Fathi Arafat, brother of PLO leader Yasir Arafat.

According to the MDA, opening the ICRC forum to the PLO will cause both immediate and long-term damage to Israel and the MDA.

It could add to the pressure the PLO is exerting on the Swiss government to be allowed to become a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, of which Switzerland is custodian.

Only sovereign nation-states may sign the conventions, which delineate the rules of warfare and the treatment of civilians in time of war.

The PLO is not a nation-state by any definition, the MDA pointed out. But the ICRC is said to support its request.

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