(photo credit: WIkicommons)
Red Cross members approved a resolution on Sunday that “strongly urges” Magen
David Adom to cease rescue operations in the West Bank, but the chief
international monitor said afterward that the ambulance service is “close to
full implementation” of its obligations.
The International Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement’s Council of Delegates – which includes every member
society in addition to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent – voted unanimously
at a meeting in Sydney.
The resolution “strongly urges MDA to comply with
its obligations and promptly respond to reports of noncompliance with the
geographic scope provisions of the [memorandum of understanding] and take
appropriate actions to end any violations.”
While the resolution still
indicates displeasure with MDA’s current operations, it actually belies
substantial improvements made by the ambulance service, an international monitor
told The Jerusalem Post
Par Stenback, a prominent Finnish politician,
was the international monitor in charge of observing the compliance of MDA and
the Palestine Red Crescent Society. He held the position until this
“I am no longer the monitor, this being the sign that progress is
achieved and the remaining monitoring can be done by ordinary movement bodies,”
he wrote in an email from Australia. “There has been progress. [MDA is] close to
Stenback’s optimistic assessment is significant,
considering his prior statements on MDA’s West Bank operations.
in a 2011 monitor report that “the remaining stumbling block is the presence of
MDA-marked ambulances in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
obvious and beyond interpretation that, when signing the [memorandum of
understanding], MDA committed itself to cease running ambulances in the occupied
Palestinian territory,” he added in the 2011 report.
dates back to the 2005 signing of a memorandum of understanding between MDA and
PRCS. To secure membership in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement, both societies signed a document that outlines their responsibilities.
A central tenet of Red Cross operations is that only one society can have
jurisdiction in a particular geographic area.
To that end, MDA and PRCS
agreed in the 2005 document that “MDA will ensure that it has no chapters
outside the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel,” and that
“PRCS is the authorized national society in the Palestinian territory
and... this territory is within the geographical scope of the operational
activities and of the competences of PRCS.”
MDA has publicly argued that
its operations in the West Bank are consistent with its agreement with the PRCS
because MDA operates in Jewish areas.
The resolution’s approval comes a
month after MDA announced it had lost funding to operate its stations in the
West Bank. The current status of those stations’ funding is not clear. MDA and
PRCS representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.