It’s been well over two months since Cyprus first floated the idea of creating a maritime humanitarian corridor from the island to the besieged Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, it was reported in Israeli media that Tel Aviv had finally given the green light ‘in principle’ for the humanitarian corridor, which does not necessarily mean that the aid ship mysteriously moving from pillar to post around the Mediterranean for the past week, is anywhere near being on its way to Gaza.

From the beginning, the Cyprus government has been touting its initiative, patting itself on the back and jumping the gun on announcements related to the initiative when the fact was, and remains so, that Israel is calling the shots and no aid aboard the RFA Lyme Bay will reach Gaza without its say so.

An ‘agreement in principle’ is not agreement to start an aid run. According to the Israeli media reports, the issue “remains complex”.

Last week during a visit to Cyprus, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the aim was to create “a fast-track process”. However, it is proving to be anything but.

Lyme Bay, the British naval vessel assigned the aid run, left from Cyprus earlier this month with 80 tonnes of aid but then diverted its course after security assurances could not be guaranteed. It emerged in the past few days that it eventually docked in Malta over the Christmas weekend.

In the span of one week, the government’s position shifted from lauding the shipment of the aid as the beginning of the humanitarian corridor, to avoiding any comments to the press, and finally saying they were waiting for Israel to give the final approval, which was the truth of the matter.

The government’s mistake from the beginning has been to try and take ownership of the operation, pre-empting Israel’s approval and engaging in empty rhetoric, which is not to say the endeavour itself and the work the government has put in to see it through is not laudable. But, in the end of the day, Cyprus is more of a ‘regional cog’ in the machine than a ‘regional player’ and has no influence over decisions made in Tel Aviv. Not many, if any countries or international organisations do.

According to the Israeli reports on Thursday, the plan involves the inspection of all supplies and the approval of Israel before any journey can take place.

The question now is how long it will take for Israeli security conditions to be satisfied and for the ship to actually be on its way to Gaza where the death toll now stands at over 21,000 and where over half the two-million population have been displaced and are starved of food and medical supplies. There will be nothing to brag about until that actually happens. Israel has given no timetable.

Perhaps the appointment by the UN on Tuesday of a coordinator to oversee all humanitarian relief shipments as of January 8, will help speed things up.