(photo credit: WIkicommons)
Magen David Adom is not in compliance with a 2005 agreement not to operate its
ambulances in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, International Committee of the
Red Cross President Peter Maurer told Israeli reporters in Tel Aviv on
It was a message he repeated in meetings with Israeli leaders
and MDA officials this week, as he visited Israel and the Palestinian
Among the topics he discussed was a 2005 memorandum of
understanding between MDA and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which
addressed the issue of ambulances in the West Bank and east
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), this 2005 agreement bans MDA from operating over the pre-1967 line,
except in the Golan Heights, in favor of the Red Crescent.
As a result of
the memorandum, MDA took its logo off ambulances operated by local Israeli
authorities in West Bank settlements.
“The issue has been brought up in
the meetings and I have just encouraged the MDA and the Israeli government to do
the last steps in terms of implementation of the memorandum of understanding,”
“A lot of [Israeli] ambulances have been repainted and
restructured and there are a couple of ambulances left, which need to follow
those who have been repainted and reorganized to function in the West Bank and
He added that a monitor examines Israeli compliance with
The monitor will report on the matter to the 19th General
Assembly of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement scheduled for
November in Australia.
But MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said that MDA has
not agreed to cease operation in West Bank settlements and east
Heller said his organization had interpreted the 2005
agreement to mean that MDA ambulances could operate where Israelis live,
including West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods of east
Similarly, he said, the Red Crescent ambulances service
Palestinian West Bank communities and Palestinians in east
There are 14 MDA stations in Judea and Samaria, he said. He
added that only this week Karnei Shomron dedicated a renovated MDA ambulance
station in that community.
Foreign Ministry officials explained that MDA
was walking a fine line between privatizing service over the pre-1967 line to
comply with the agreement, while still operating in Jewish communities in east
Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The officials added that MDA signed the 2005
memorandum of understanding, but the Israeli government had not.
added that they would not have advised MDA to sign the memorandum.
agreement allowed Israel to be recognized as a member of the International Red
Cross and Red Crescent movement and the ICRC.
Still, Deputy Foreign
Minister Ze’ev Elkin has also distanced Israel from the agreement, explaining
that it does not represent government policy and that Israel should not be a
party to it.
Separately in his meetings with Israeli leaders, Maurer
dealt with the issue of missing soldiers.
Israel, he said, has asked the
ICRC to look for signs of life or the mortal remains of five missing soldiers.
But Maurer said that for confidentiality reasons, he could not name the
Maurer said he also assured the Palestinians that his organization
would seek the return of the mortal remains of Palestinians, which are in
Looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he noted that
this was the 47th year in which Israel had “occupied” the West Bank and
The Geneva Convention, which set outs rules for situations of
occupation, he said, was not designed for such a long-term period.