Tempers flared in parliament on Thursday during the ratification of an interstate agreement between Cyprus and Israel over the co-production of movies, with opposition Akel describing the proceedings as being in bad taste while people are suffering in Gaza.

The House plenum was ratifying an agreement signed by Nicosia and Tel Aviv back in 2018. The bill ratifying the agreement passed with 25 votes for, 12 against, and three abstentions.

But during the discussion prior to the vote, Akel MP Giorgos Loukaides called the proceedings “shameful”, at a time when Israel has been committing crimes against the Palestinian people for the last four months.

Loukaides called it “tragic” that MPs were discussing the co-production of movies instead of “Israel’s atrocities or sanctions [on Israel]”.

It seems, he added, that certain quarters want to convey the message to Israel that it can proceed “as if it’s business as usual”.

Given this attitude, the MP asked rhetorically, how can the Cypriot parliament be relied upon to pass a condemnatory resolution on Israel calling for a ceasefire.

But parliamentarians from other parties pushed back. Diko’s Nicolas Papadopoulos said the bill had nothing to do with current events in Israel.

Likewise independent MP Andreas Themistocleous argued that the discussion is about making movies, “not making grenades”.

Foreign policy, he said, is not an exercise in charity and philanthropy, but rather an exercise of national interests. At any rate, asserted Themistocleous, foreign policy is the domain of the government – not parliament.

On his part Edek leader Marinios Sizopoulos condemned Israel’s “barbarities” in the Gaza Strip, describing Israeli actions as “genocidal”. He also denounced the Hamas attack of October 7 last year.

Another Akel deputy, Giorgos Koukoumas, spoke of “hypocrisy” in that while parliament had condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas, “nothing is being done about the 30,000 [dead] Palestinians.”

Hitting back at this, House Speaker Annita Demetriou asked Akel why, then, has it not brought a resolution to parliament condemning Israel’s actions.