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Cyprus seeking to open Gaza maritime aid corridor

NICOSIA, Nov 1, 2023 (Net) – Cyprus said Tuesday it was intensifying efforts to get concrete support to open a maritime corridor for the delivery of aid to war-torn Gaza from the eastern Mediterranean is-land.
President Nikos Christodoulides said he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the issue after raising it with European Union leaders last week.
“Cyprus is ready to contribute to establishing a maritime corridor from Cypriot ports to deliver aid to Gaza,” Christodoulides said.
“Today, I will speak again with the prime minister of Israel, as well as with the heads of EU institutions and with the United States, to see how we proceed with implementing this initiative of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.
He said the country — the nearest EU member state to the Gaza Strip — was “ready to play a substantial role”.
Christodoulides said later the proposal had been received “positively”.
“I had a long telephone conversation with the prime minister of Israel, and this evening, I will speak with the president of France (Emmanuel Macron) to see how the proposal we have developed can be implemented,” he told reporters.
“We are discussing the details, and I hope that soon we will be able to proceed to the implementation stage,” he added.
Cyprus says its proximity to Gaza — about 370 kilometres (230 miles) to the northwest — and good dip-lomatic relations with Arab neighbours and Israel make it an ideal staging post for aid.
In recent days, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos visited Jordan and the Palestinian Au-thority in Ramallah.
The Cypriot president has also involved his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the talks.
“At this moment when there is a crisis, there is a role for the Republic of Cyprus to play, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve through our initiatives,” said Christodoulides.
The logistics of the aid corridor and how it would be secured are issues that need to be agreed upon.
Cyprus has also served as a transit hub for foreign nationals evacuated from Israel since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says relentless Israeli bombing since then has killed more than 8,500 people in the Palestinian territory, also mainly civilians and many children.
The UN agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) warned Monday the limited number of aid convoys entering Gaza’s through its land crossing with Egypt were insufficient to meet the “unprecedented humanitarian needs” in the territory.

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