Cyprus Mail

Foreign ministers to meet in Israel, Gaza pier issue resurfaces

File photo A boat carrying patients and students sails towards Europe aiming to break Israel's blockade on Gaza, at the sea in Gaza

By George Psyllides

The foreign ministers of Cyprus and Greece, Nicos Christodoulides and Nicos Kotzias, will have a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 13 in Israel, it was announced on Friday.

The Cyprus News Agency said the meeting had been arranged a long time ago and it will focus on the ongoing trilateral cooperation between the three countries.

It was not expected to delve into the matter of building a pier in Cyprus to serve Gaza, which has resurfaced in Israeli media.

State broadcaster CyBC reported on Friday – quoting a government source – that on the issue of the pier, the government was ready to help as long as all sides – Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and the UN – were on board.

Quoting an unnamed Cypriot foreign ministry official, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that Nicosia has not yet had a “substantial bilateral dialogue” with Israel on the matter, and that there has not been any activity in recent days moving this proposal forward.

“We are aware of this proposal, and we are aware that the Israeli side is thinking of perhaps going forward and exploring the idea, but we have not yet had a substantial bilateral dialogue,” the official said.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Christodoulides’ meetings on September 13 were not expected to focus on Gaza.

The idea of using a section of a port or a pier in Cyprus to service Gaza was raised in late June when Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman visited Nicosia.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told the Sunday Mail in July that the Israeli request was being examined and that Cyprus had a positive view of the possibility of helping out with the situation in Gaza.

Asked if he was aware that Cyprus might be seen as being complicit in the Israeli siege of Gaza, which the Council of Europe has condemned as “collective punishment”, Prodromou said the government is cognisant of this aspect.

“Cyprus would like to help due its friendly relations with Israel and with neighbouring countries. However, as always our support and our conduct of foreign relations is conditional on adherence to international law.”

In an emailed response to the Mail, the Palestinian embassy confirmed at the time that the plan existed.

“The government of the Republic of Cyprus confirmed that a proposal to this end was indeed proposed by the Israeli government and confirmed that it will discuss this plan with the Palestinian Authority if the proposed plan goes under consideration,” the statement said.

The Palestinian embassy added that the “Palestinian Authority has not been presented with this plan. In this regard, we would like to express our deep appreciation to the special close relations between Palestine and Cyprus, who in turn confirmed that they would not sidestep the Palestinian Authority in discussing such plans.”

Goods shipped by sea usually arrive at an Israeli port and are transferred to Gaza over land. Israel enforces a maritime blockade on Gaza, which it says is meant to prevent weapons from reaching the territory ruled by Hamas.

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