MDA, Red Crescent get Red Cross prize

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Palestinian and Israeli first responder groups are the joint recipients of the first American Red Cross Humanitarian Prize.

The winners announced in an American Red Cross release on Thursday are Younis Al Khatib, the president of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, and Dr. Noam Yifrach, the chairman of Magen David Adom’s executive committee.

"Mr. Al Khatib and Dr. Yifrach are being honored for the historic work they have accomplished in establishing a formal, ongoing collaboration between their two organizations which has directly led to improved humanitarian conditions for Palestinians and Israelis," the release said.

The prize is jointly administered by The Atlantic, a magazine; no prize amount was listed in the release.

A video posted by the American Red Cross on YouTube says both men have "endured criticism from within and without their organizations" for formalizing their cooperation.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, spoke at the award ceremony on Tuesday. "Their work is an example and lays a foundation for cooperation that we hope will flourish throughout the region," she said.

The release noted that MDA was admitted in 2006 to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a long-delayed admission brought about in part because of American Red Cross pressure.

PRCS also was admitted that year, "the first time a Palestinian organization appointed by the Palestinian Authority enjoys standing equal to organizations appointed by internationally recognized Governments," the release said.

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