Gaza aid plan to be presented at Paris conference

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Cyprus will present its plan for a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza when President Nikos Christodoulides meets other EU heads of state in Paris at an international donor conference for the besieged Palestinian enclave on Thursday.

Government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis told reporters the initiative to ship aid from the island will be discussed at length during the conference, which will also seek to address Gaza’s pressing needs, including water, electricity, and fuel supply.

Last week, senior UN officials said the average Palestinian in Gaza was living on two pieces of bread a day, while only one of three water supply lines from Israel was operational.

More than 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza by the Israeli offensive launched in the wake of October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,400 people.

President Christodoulides said the initiative aims for a “sustained, secure high-volume flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza in the immediate, medium and long term.”

Ships would deliver the aid to Gaza from Limassol, some 410 kilometres away.

Christodoulides said the government is working with neighbouring countries, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the US, France, the EU and the UN to set the initiative in motion.

To address Israeli security concerns, the aid would be inspected at its departure point to ensure nothing is delivered that Hamas, which runs Gaza, could weaponise in its war with Israel.

Hamas is on the EU and US lists of terrorist organizations.

Christodoulides met briefly with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday at Larnaca airport, where they discussed the initiative.

“What I can tell you is the (Christodoulides-Blinken) meeting in and of itself shows how much importance the US also attaches to the Cyprus Republic’s initiative,” Letymbiotis said.

“The substantial support that our initiative receives highlights the role that our country can play in the current crisis and our region in general.”

He said French President Emmanuel Macron also backed the proposal.