[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 00:55 GMT
Crystal joins Cross and Crescent
International Red Cross Committee co-operation director Francois Bugnon with the "Red Crystal" emblem
Israel could use the new symbol to operate as an ICRC member
A diamond-shaped red crystal on a white background is to join the Red Cross and the Red Crescent as an emblem for ambulances and relief workers.

Geneva Convention member states voted by a two-thirds majority for the symbol, ending a decades-old row and opens the way for Israel to join.

Israel had been denied entry because its Red Shield was not approved.

Relief workers and ambulances bearing the Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols are protected under international law.

A spokesman for the Swiss government told reporters it was unfortunate that the crystal had not been adopted by consensus.

The Red Shield of David - or Magen David Adom - was not recognised by the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and Arab states had blocked attempts to find an alternative symbol.

Syrian objections

The new "crystal" - a hollow red diamond on a white background - is regarded as being free from religious, national or cultural connotations.

Israel has said it is ready to use it for missions outside the country's borders - as set down by the Geneva Conventions.

The vote in Geneva was delayed by wrangling between Syria and Israel over access for Syrian medical staff to the Golan Heights.

Syria said it was prepared to approve the crystal but wanted Israel to allow the Syrian Red Crescent access to the plateau, which Israel seized in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Syrian Minister of State Bashar al-Shaar told reporters that Syrians in the Heights "suffered terribly through lack of medical services".

Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, ruled out letting Syria have access because there were no diplomatic relations with Damascus.

See archive footage of the Red Cross

Golan dispute halts 'Red Crystal'
07 Dec 05 |  Middle East
Pact helps Israel join Red Cross
28 Nov 05 |  Middle East
Row over Red Cross emblem
13 Apr 00 |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific