The American Red Cross and Israel’s Magen David Adom signed an agreement Monday designed to strengthen relations between the two following a period of controversy. It spells out increased cooperation on several fronts, including preparedness for incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, international tracing and family reunification, and biomedical services.
“It will take away the suspicions of the past between us,” said MDA director general Avi Zohar.
Red Cross chairman David McLaughlin said the agreement, which he signed with MDA chairman Yochanan Gur, is a symbolic gesture. He said it was meant to encourage other national Red Cross organizations to boost their relationship with the MDA until the Israeli group is granted official membership into the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
MDA has been banned for 50 years because it will not adopt the red cross or red crescent symbols over its Jewish star. ARC has been embroiled in international controversy over its decision to withhold $5 million a year in International Red Cross dues to protest Israel’s exclusion.
Some Red Cross board members sought to end the protest last year and pay the dues, outraging advocates of Israel and causing a drop in American Jewish support for the ARC.
McLaughlin also signed an agreement with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society establishing priorities for collaboration.