AS IF it was not bad enough having the Ambassador of Russia interfering in domestic matters, this week the Ambassador of Israel also decided to play this game. The Embassy of Israel in Nicosia issued a statement earlier this week expressing regret over the resolution adopted by Cyprus’ House of Representatives condemning the Israeli army’s actions in Gaza, which led to more than 60 Palestinians being killed and some 2,000 injured.
The embassy noted that the resolution, “regretfully”, was adopted “on the eve of the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot,” and stated that “this parliamentary statement cannot be justified.” It then explained why it could not be justified. “Israel and Cyprus are close neighbouring countries, sharing the values of true democracy and the rule of law. The two countries, together with other like-minded countries in the region, face threats from extremist forces that promote hatred, violence and terrorism against civilians.”
We will not dwell on the ludicrousness of this statement, because it may be construed as interfering in Israeli domestic affairs. If the Israeli government wants to pursue a shoot-to-kill policy against civilians throwing stones at guard-posts, it is its decision, but it has no business telling another country’s legislature that condemning such action was unjustified. If he wished, the Ambassador could have given an interview to local media to defend Israel’s action and explain to the Cyprus public why it was justified, but censuring the legislature’s stance was out of order.
It came across as a kind of warning. If Cyprus wanted to belong to Israel’s camp, sharing the values of true democracy and rule of law, its political parties should avoid criticising the close neighbouring country’s actions. The Gaza killings drew worldwide condemnation, so it is difficult to see why Israel felt it should censure parliament for a resolution of no importance, especially considering the Cyprus government stayed neutral on the matter.
Perhaps the embassy was implying that our parties should show Israel, the type of deference it extends to Russian. They had never seen the need to pass resolutions condemning the invasions of Georgia, the annexation of Crimea or the unrelenting bombing of Chechnya, so why were they condemning the actions of our new ally Israel? It is true that our parties are not consistent when they decide to take a stand on international affairs, Akel’s anti-Western prejudices usually being imposed on the legislature.
Perhaps Israel should consider taking a “perennially principled stand on the Cyprus problem” like the Russian government, and there would never be another parliamentary resolution condemning its actions.