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Geneva Meeting To Discuss New Red Cross Emblem

5 December 2005 -- The 192 countries that have signed the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare today start a two-day meeting that is expected to result in a decision on whether to adopt a new, third Red Cross emblem.

Israel has said it would join the international aid organization if a new "red crystal" is adopted at the conference in Geneva, alongside the red cross and red crescent logos.

The red cross was first adopted in 1863, when Swiss humanitarians founded the movement to care for war victims. It is a reversal of the colors of the neutral Swiss flag, without any religious intent.

But most Muslim countries identify the emblem with the crusader's cross from centuries earlier and have refused to use it. Instead, the Ottoman Empire used a red crescent to protect its medical workers in the 1876 Russo-Turkish war. The red crescent was enshrined with the red cross in the 1929 version of the Geneva conventions on warfare.

Israel has been denied membership in the humanitarian movement because it rejects both emblems.