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Board concered about Red Cross

Last updated: 2004-03-09

Following the recent criticism of Israel's security fence by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Director General of the Board of Deputies, Neville Nagler, has written to Sir Nicholas Young, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, expressing the concerns of the Jewish community.

While claiming not to take sides over political issues, the ICRC described the route of the fence and the effects on the Palestinian population as "contrary to international humanitarian law". Neville Nagler's letter stated that as the International Court of Justice has not concluded its deliberations on this matter "the ICRC's statement cannot be based upon anything other than a subjective interpretation of international law" and would consequently breach the organisation's claim to neutrality.

Neville Nagler also criticised the ICRC's assumption that the protection of Palestinian property should take precedence over Israel's right to defend its citizens.

Commenting on his letter, Neville Nagler said: "The Red Cross' policy of neutrality has been deployed to notable effect over the past century. We well recall its neutrality towards the evils of the Nazis. It is curious that the Red Cross now appears to have abandoned this stance, in order to criticise Israel in a partisan manner. Not only do these views pre-empt the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice; they are also unhelpful in achieving a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."