Christodoulides in Cairo

Al-Ahram Weekly , Tuesday 5 Dec 2023

Al-Sisi with Nikos Christodoulides

 

CYPRIOT President Nikos Christodoulides met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday in Cairo to discuss the possibilities of extending a humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza through the Mediterranean Sea. 

Cyprus, only 360 kilometres away from Gaza, last month offered to host and operate facilities to send aid directly into the Gaza Strip following the start of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.   

According to the Cypriot proposal, international humanitarian aid will be sent to Larnaca on the south coast of Cyprus, then inspected, with Israeli involvement, and sent to Gaza. Transferring aid via the Rafah border, the only aid route to Gaza, has been on slow due to Israel’s strict inspections as well as problems in distributing aid in the Strip due to the lack of fuel and security concerns.  

The visit comes as the first leg in a tour that will involve Jordan where Christodoulides will meet King Abdullah to discuss the technicalities of the plan. 

According to Reuters, there were technical discussions on the matter between Cypriot and Israeli officials on Sunday.  

Experts believe there are many obstacles facing the establishment of an aid corridor as Gaza has no port and its waters are shallow. In 2016, work to set up the needed infrastructure of a port in Gaza started but was stopped.   

During the meeting between the Egyptian and Cypriot presidents, Al-Sisi stressed Egypt’s openness to receiving and coordinating all international aid directed to the Gaza Strip, according to Egypt’s presidential Spokesman Ahmed Fahmi.

While emphasising Egypt’s intensive efforts to deliver assistance and humanitarian aid to the Strip, Al-Sisi underscored the importance of establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, considering this was the way to realise regional peace and security.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 December, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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