WE HAD to read the Jerusalem Post to find out specific details about the visit of Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Tuesday. We would not have known what Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi had asked if we relied on the generalisations and platitudes in the Cyprus foreign ministry’s official announcement about the visit.
According to our ministry, the meeting of our two ministers at Ben Gurion Airport, re-affirmed the “commitment of the two countries and their governments to continue to intensify their efforts for further broadening and strengthening their bilateral cooperation and ties, with an emphasis, among other things, in the fields of political dialogue, security, energy, tourism, research and innovation and investments.”
The Jerusalem Post’s report about the meeting avoided the platitudes, saying that “Ashkenazi called on Cyprus to try to moderate the EU’s response to Israeli plans to move forward with the Trump peace plan.”
The Trump plan, envisages the annexation by Israel of 30 per cent of the West Bank, including all the settlements, and the Jordan Valley, something the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and several European governments were opposed to.
None of this was mentioned in the ministry’s announcement, although Christodoulides in fairness made comments about it when asked by a newspaper and radio station on Wednesday. Based on what he said, Cyprus had no intention of doing Israel’s bidding in the EU. “The peace plan does not align with Cyprus’ view on the matter so we cannot support it and vouch for its effectiveness in front of the EU,” he told Politis radio on Wednesday morning.
The Cyprus government could not be seen arguing in favour of a peace plan that envisaged the annexation of occupied territory, even if the beneficiary would be a friendly country. Yet this was what Ashkenazi asked Christodoulides according to the Jerusalem Post – for “Cyprus to be a moderate voice in the discourse with European states”. In other words, to defend the West Bank annexation plan.
Israel was entitled to ask this of the Cyprus government, but the latter had no obligation to respond positively, no matter how close our ties are with Israel. The Cyprus Republic would lose every shred of credibility it has if it backed a peace plan that paved the way for the annexation of occupied land.
It had undermined its credibility when it failed to take a clear stand against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequently called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, but it will have none left if it acts as “the moderate voice in the discourse of European states”, about the one-sided, Trump peace plan for the Middle East.