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22 June, 2024
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Cyprus proposes lifeline to Gaza in 'Amalthea' project

Cypriot democracy takes center stage in Middle East crisis

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The debate on the humanitarian corridor in Gaza, from Cypriot territory, as framed in the context of the 'Amalthea' project, is an interesting exercise in the way in which Cypriot democracy is seeking 'flag projection' and a wider diplomatic role in the situation that is taking shape in the whole Middle East sub-system after 7 October. In principle, Cyprus can play a role both in sending humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which is under humanitarian collapse following the ground offensive by the Israeli armed forces, and in relation to the next day of the war in the Middle East, where the big picture of political transition in the region as well as post-conflict development enter the equation.

Therefore, the debate on whether the proposal is effective, feasible, or should be the subject of domestic political criticism is not presumed by the idea -per se- but is a more complex process that must be carried out in a transparent manner and, at the level of understanding, in relation to the objective difficulties of implementation. After all, it is always in the formulation and implementation of any aspect of foreign policy making & implementation that what is at stake, over time, is both the level of conception of an approach (the institutional armor commonly known as delivery).

The idea of using Cyprus as a starting corridor for Gaza relief is not a new one. It is credited to the Cypriot Supreme Court back in 2010 and was shaped in the period 2010-2014, especially after the events of Israel's land intervention in the Gaza Strip in 2014. It has been a tool of the European Union's foreign policy since then in the suite of relevant tools it adopted in the same year in the context of the Middle East peace process and, objectively, has a number of difficulties: As regards the consensus of all the states involved (especially Israel and Egypt itself), as regards technical details, given the lack of a safe haven infrastructure in Gaza, and as regards the individual aspects of security and political control of Gaza by the Palestinian Authority - since the aim is to prevent humanitarian aid from ending up in the hands of Hamas. Moreover, these objective difficulties also define the precious distance between the proposal put on the table by Cyprus and its implementation 'on the ground'. In other words, the delivery.

Following the relevant debate in the public sphere since Nicosia proposed the humanitarian corridor -by sea- from Cyprus to Gaza, one immediately understands how aspects of foreign policy almost always turn, in Cyprus, into an internal debate. On the one hand, the government communicatively bets on a good idea that nevertheless has objective difficulties of implementation (instead of doing more and saying less, with emphasis on delivery) and on the other hand, the opposition -wherever it comes from- discredits it in this regard.

However, successful foreign policy (together with defense policy) is something quite different. It is the policy over which no one is allowed to engage in petty politics and communication and, moreover, it requires a minimum of consensus at the national level in order to be effective. So much for Cyprus and Gaza, with the hope that the war will end soon.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  hostages  |  Hamas  |  Gaza  |  Israel

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