Cyprus Mail

Israel agrees to Gaza-Cyprus sea route

Palestinians face constant blockades and seek alternative routes for transport and trade

By Staff Reporter

ISRAEL has agreed to a sea route between the Gaza Strip and Cyprus in return for a long-term ceasefire with Hamas, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Thursday.

Haaretz was referencing a report by the Al-Hayat pan-Arab newspaper, published in London. Citing Palestinian sources, the publication said Israel was conditioning the ceasefire – of seven to ten years – on negotiations over the body parts and the Israeli citizens who are being held in the Gaza Strip.

According to Al-Hayat, the proposals arose during meetings between the chief of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Meshal and the former Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair.

Hamas officials did not comment on the report.

Last week, Israeli news portal Ynetnews reported that Europe was willing to establish a maritime passage between the Gaza Strip and Larnaca – intended for both people and merchandise.

Under the initiative, European observers would be present both in Gaza and Larnaca in order to prevent security violations.

Palestinian sources said Europe is keen on finding a comprehensive, permanent solution for Gaza in order to save from having to rehabilitate the Strip every few years.

A similar proposal was raised by the EU in 2010, but came to nothing. The size of Gaza’s port is too small to accommodate cargo ships. Palestinian businessmen had then suggested that ferry boats could meet up with cargo ships out at sea and then transport goods ashore.

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