Israel must exercise ‘self-defence’ within international law

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Cyprus’ position is that Israel’s right to self-defence must be exercised within the framework of international law, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told MPs.

In briefing Tuesday’s House Committee on Financial and Budgetary Affairs, he responded to AKEL MPs’ criticisms of the government’s stance on the war in the Middle East.

Kombos said the purpose of Cyprus’ proposal to create a maritime humanitarian corridor to Gaza is not to transfer Palestinians from Gaza to Cyprus.

He pointed out that the Republic of Cyprus is approaching the issue realistically since no initiative can be implemented without the approval of Israel, which has concerns related to security issues.

“We have built on the relationship of trust created with Israel.”

“We are now in a structured dialogue, as Israel gave political approval to set up working groups to discuss all aspects of the issue.”

Kombos said Cyprus’ proposal includes various scenarios and phases depending on whether the assistance will be immediate, medium-term or longer-term.

He also said there will be a need to transfer a large amount of aid for an extended period and that Cyprus is preparing for all scenarios.

Kombos went to Ramallah twice and was the first Foreign Minister to go there after the October 7 Hamas attacks.

“We are trying in practice to do something for the people of Gaza.

“We are the only EU member state making a very concrete, structured, coherent effort in consultation with the Palestinians, conveying their concerns, proposals, suggestions and reflections”.

During his recent visit to Israel, Kombos met with seven families of hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

“There can be no different approach than the position in favour of the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

He added that what was done on October 7 by Hamas was an “act of terrorism for which there can be no excuse.”

He said that 33 countries are currently represented in the Zenon Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca, getting prepared in case evacuation from neighbouring countries needs to get underway.

Israel and Hamas have agreed on a Qatar-mediated deal for a four-day truce in Gaza and the release of 50 captives held in the enclave.

About 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails are to be freed as part of the deal.