UN recognition of Zaka seen as big win for Israeli diplomacy

Ambassador says search-and-rescue NGO ‘reflects Israel’s moral values’; approval came 4 years after initial request

Emergency workers inspect the scene of a deadly crash in southern Israel on February 3, 2015 (Shalom Ben Tzur/Zaka Spokesperson)
Emergency workers inspect the scene of a deadly crash in southern Israel on February 3, 2015 (Shalom Ben Tzur/Zaka Spokesperson)

Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, called the recognition granted for search-and-rescue organization Zaka “a very significant victory for Israeli diplomacy.”

The United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations granted official observer status to Zaka, which has operated around the world, on Tuesday.

The advisory status, conveyed unanimously, gives Zaka, a volunteer organization, the right to take part in official UN discussions and conferences that are open for such groups.

The committee’s vote followed dozens of meetings between Israeli diplomats and representatives of the United Nations and the member states, according to an Israeli government statement.

The 19-member state committee includes representatives of Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Turkey, China, Russia, Pakistan, Uruguay, Burundi and Greece, along with the United States and Israel.

Zaka was recognized four years after making its original request; the Israeli NGO has been rejected several times. The observer status must still be approved at next month’s meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

“Zaka is an organization that reflects Israel’s moral values,” Danon said, “and its acceptance by the UN represents conclusive proof to the world of this fact. Zaka received the status it deserves.”

In a vote that took place six months ago, the committee rejected Zaka, but did recognize the Palestinian Return Center, a Hamas-affiliated and British-based organization.

In 2005, Zaka was recognized by the United Nations as an international volunteer humanitarian organization.

Its international rescue unit has assisted in the Nepal earthquake and Paris terror attacks, both last year; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013; the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011, and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

“After years of working at terror sites and at mass casualty incidents in Israel and offering assistance to all who need, Zaka has received a unique status that will allow us to continue our sacred work around the world,” Mati Goldstein, head of the international rescue unit, said in the statement.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.