Red Cross members urge MDA to fully comply with ambulance deal

Resolution "strongly urges" Magen David Adom to cease rescue operations in the West Bank.

November 19, 2013 02:47
2 minute read.

MDA Ambulance. (photo credit: WIkicommons)


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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.

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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 week.

“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 full implementation.”

Stenback’s optimistic assessment is significant, considering his prior statements on MDA’s West Bank operations.

He wrote in a 2011 monitor report that “the remaining stumbling block is the presence of MDA-marked ambulances in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

“It is 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.

The controversy 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.

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