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Thursday, June 22, 2006 

Red Cross accepts Israel after America holds back emergency funds

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Cresent (ICRC) has let Israel in for the first time after America held back $45 million of international emergency cash.

The ICRC is an international collection of Red Cross societies around the world. They do some of the world's most important emergency relief work.

Ironically Israel has repeatdly refused to let the ICRC in to Palestinian land - to see the massacre of Jenin for example. Or even into Israel itself - to see the conditions Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, often held without trial or access to their families or lawyers for years.

Israel had been blocked by Arab and Muslim countries for decades, because of its occupation of Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese and (previously) Egyptian land. The ICRC often sent workers in to clean up the mess the Israelis had created, with the Palestinian Red Cresent helping the victims of Israeli occupation.

It is understandable that they had been blocked for so long.

The ICRC works on consensus: if even one country disagrees, it wont happen. Syria was the only country which blocked Israel's application last year.

But the rules do allow for a two-thirds majority to push things through. The Americans applied so much pressure that they had to resort to this controversial tactic this time round.

The US had withheld $45 million that it has owed for six years. That cash directly harmed the ICRC's international relief work.

They have also voted to allow a new symbol - a red square, especially for the Israelis who didn't want to use a cross or cresent.

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