Israeli leaders requested Cyprus to transfer the ‘real’ situation in Israel to the European Union, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Sunday after his visit in Tel Aviv this weekend.

Christodoulides held separate meetings with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening following his attendance at the International Peace Conference in Cairo, Egypt.

The Cypriot president emphasised the need for de-escalation of the crisis affecting the region, continued humanitarian aid to Gaza, the avoidance of civilian casualties on all sides, and the initiation of a political dialogue that can pave the way for a resolution to the Middle East conflict.

Speaking to journalists after his return to Cyprus on Sunday morning, he highlighted the importance of the island’s participation in the summit, saying “it was a recognition of the role we can play”. He explained that Cyprus, as an EU member that has excellent relations with all neighbouring states can aid in the communication between Israel and Brussels.

Explaining his visit to Israel, Christodoulides said the Republic of Cyprus can contribute in terms of unimpeded humanitarian assistance, if there is a need for evacuation in the region, but also to start a dialogue that may lead to a de-escalation.

After condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks, the president said he “developed some ideas that we have and that we shared with our Arab friends, to see how we can create a situation that will not lead to further escalation.”

De-escalation of the crisis is important, the president noted, stressing “we are all affected by these developments”.

As part of these efforts, he added, is the resumption of talks to resolve the Palestinian issue on the basis of the agreed framework.

The Israeli leadership “presented me with the situation as it is at the moment and they asked from the Republic of Cyprus…for some specific issues that we need to look at immediately,” he said.

Stating that he cannot make the exact requests public, the president said “they are issues related to humanitarian aid, to the possible evacuation from the region, but also to the transfer of the real picture within the EU.”

In relation to the European Union, the Cypriot president that in this crisis, there was a delayed reaction, since the extraordinary European Council took place almost ten days after the Hamas terrorist attack.

“So, it is important that they are approaching the Republic of Cyprus, and so is Egypt, the role of the Republic of Cyprus as their representative in the EU institutions, to convey the situation as it is, but also to see, because this is the main issue, how data and conditions are created for de-escalating the situation.”

According to a statement by the president’s office earlier in the day, Herzog thanked Christodoulides for travelling to the country to express his solidarity with the people of Israel.

He added that “we are in national mourning for one of the greatest tragedies our nation has faced since independence.

“We are glad that two hostages have been released, but there are more than 210 hostages with dozens of children, dozens of elderly, dozens of sick and of course hundreds of innocent people who were kidnapped and need to be returned safely to Israel unconditionally.”

Herzog added that Israel’s actions are “part of our right to defend ourselves, we are undertaking it in full respect of the rules of international humanitarian law”. He said “that is why we have allowed humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, to help civilians not under fire, to move, to get help.”

He noted that the country is “watching very closely what is happening on our northern border,” and that “the Lebanese state is fully responsible for this situation and will be fully responsible if the situation deteriorates.”

For his part, Christodoulides said that “I am here to express the solidarity of the people of the Republic of Cyprus and noted that the issue of the immediate release of the hostages should be the number one priority.

Regarding the 20 trucks with humanitarian aid allowed in Gaza this weekend, the president said this was “a positive development”.

“I am also here because we are in the same neighbourhood, we are friends, your concerns are our concerns, and we are also here as an EU member, and we are sending a strong message about the need for the EU to be present at this very difficult crossroads for our neighbourhood.

“I am here to discuss, to see how we can find a solution to this crisis.”

Earlier, the president had a meeting with Netanyahu who also recounted the experience of Israeli people after the terrorist attacks by Hamas. Netanyahu then discussed his recent meetings with the President of the United States and the German Chancellor, highlighting the imperative for the civilized world to unite against terrorism and Hamas.

The meetings were also attended by Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis and the Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office, Marilena Rauna.

During the summit, the president also had the opportunity to meet the presidents of Egypt, United Arab Emirates Palestine, as well as leaders from Qatar and other countries in the region, to see how conditions can be created to de-escalation the situation in Israel.

The president and his entourage returned to Cyprus in the early morning hours on Sunday.