Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos on Tuesday expressed concerns about the possible expansion of the crisis in the Middle East and the spread of war.

Addressing MPs of the House foreign affairs committee, Kombos said the situation in Gaza is very serious and there is the possibility of an extension of the crisis, noting that “the foreign ministry’s objective is to shield the Republic of Cyprus”.

He said that so far, 1,088 people from 35 countries have been evacuated from the war zone through the island, noting that if the crisis worsens it may be necessary to evacuate up to 100,000 people.

He also outlined the government’s proposal for a marine humanitarian corridor to Gaza.

Kombos said that there is a lot of international pressure on Israel to create this humanitarian corridor, and that Cyprus is in an advantageous position to play this role also due to its geographical location.

On the government’s position on the crisis, the foreign minister said that “our country adheres to principled positions” which relate to the creation of two states in the region, and emphasised that “Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people and is a terrorist organisation”.

In an attempt to justify Cyprus’ abstention from a United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for a “sustained humanitarian truce in the Middle East,” Kombos said the government did not disagree at all with the content of the text, but with the absence in the resolution of reference to Hamas.

Committee chair Haris Georgiades said the government has taken the correct approach to the situation in the Middle East, raising the question of how Turkey’s attitude towards the crisis is being commented on, as recorded by all the political forces as well as the public.

On the same subject, Disy deputy Averof Neophytou questioned whether the Turkish government’s positions will impact the country’s relationship with the EU, an area which the government has invested a lot in relation to the Cyprus issue.

Meanwhile, Akel’s Giorgos Loukaidis criticised the government for the selective sensitivity it has shown to Russia’s war in Ukraine in relation to Israel’s invasion of Gaza, and questioned whether at any time, the government or the foreign ministry have declared they were in favour of a ceasefire so that the proposed humanitarian corridor can operate.

After the session, he expressed his party’s disagreement with the government’s approach to the huge, as he said, ethnic cleansing effort that Israel is attempting on the Palestinians.

“Unfortunately, the government has so far not uttered a word of criticism about the war crimes being committed, as demonstrated by the UN,” he said.

The government is positioned with the most extreme forces within the EU and the West, and “fully identifies with the unacceptable far-right practices of the far-right Netanyahu government,” he said, adding it was “regrettable” that there have not been any requests for a ceasefire.

Diko’s Christiana Erotokritou expressed her party’s agreement with the government’s initiatives, saying the Republic of Cyprus took a correct stance during the UN General Assembly as it demanded the condemnation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, which has nothing to do with the well-intentioned struggles of the people of Palestine.

“Unfortunately, this was not achieved and quite rightly the Republic of Cyprus joined with the vast majority of EU member-states,” she said.

The Diko MP also said that when it comes to humanitarian aid, the Republic of Cyprus has, in practice and not just in rhetoric, taken initiatives that can have tangible results in alleviating the emergency faced by the people of Gaza.

“The government’s actions and results are multiple times the size of our country and prove that the Republic of Cyprus can be a bridge of peace”.