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Red Cross takes step forward in resolving emblem issue

The Red Cross movement has announced that it has worked out a formula that could clear the way for the admittance of the Israeli society after a 51-year wait. The decision comes after two days of talks in Geneva.

The Red Cross movement has announced that it has worked out a formula that could clear the way for the admittance of the Israeli society after a 51-year wait. The decision comes after two days of talks in Geneva between national governments and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The plan is to include the star of David in a new emblem -- a neutral red diamond, that could also be used to incorporate other national emblems if necessary. The ICRC, mandated to aid war victims on all sides under the Geneva conventions, wants to avoid a "proliferation of emblems" because it is already alarmed by disrespect for the red cross and red crescent in some conflicts.

Red Cross officials said the Israeli society could be admitted by the end of the year pending approval of the new symbol. In the case of Kazakstan and possibly Eritrea, which wish to respect the sensitivities of both Christians and Muslims, the cross and crescent could be used together in the new emblem.

The Red Cross movement, which includes 188 countries, is expected to ratify the decision next December. The issue of the emblem has been a key obstacle to the Magen David Adom's joining the federation since 1949. The American Red Cross, which says the time has come to resolve the dispute, threatened to withhold five million dollars in basic dues from the international federation over the dispute.

swissinfo and Associated Press

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