At the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent now underway in Geneva, the Arab states are seeking to condemn Israel for “inhumane practices,” “the lack of commitment demonstrated by the Israeli authorities to the principles of international humanitarian law,” alleging that Israel’s relief society is not complying with a recent agreement signed with its Palestinian counterpart. (See two draft resolutions below.)
One of the draft resolutions cites a new report, authored by former Finnish Prime Minister Mr. Par Stenback, as alleged proof that the Israeli authorities and the Magen David Adom, Israel’s humanitarian society, are not cooperating with the Red Cross Movement or respecting their prior commitments.
The Stenback report itself, however, says no such thing. While shortcomings are identified, Mr. Stenback describes the cooperation between the MDA and the Palestinian Red Crescent in several fields as “exemplary of how sister Societies can and should co-operate.” Mr. Stenback also recognizes the good will shown by the Israeli authorities, stating that “interventions by the Prime Minister’s office have facilitated the process by giving the political directives needed in order to resolve a number of bureaucratic issues.”
It is unfortunate that the Arab relief societies have chosen to drag atavistic politics into the Red Cross Movement, a forum dedicated to the principle of humanitarian cooperation. The danger is real that, if the censure is adopted, the resort to partisan point-scoring might upset the fragile new relationship that the Steinback report seeks to protect and cultivate.
Related texts from this week’s conference: