Sputnik: So firstly, while the plan is, in the words of the Cypriot government, “in its infancy”, how do you think both the Palestinian and the Israeli people would view such a proposal?
Seth Frantzman: I mean I think Israelis probably think that it’s absurd and I think Palestinians probably have no hope in such a proposal because we’ve heard stories like this in the past where people talk about building some sort of an island off of Gaza or something but the reality is that there’s no need for that; there’s already a port next to Gaza in Israel where lots of goods and services flow through or they can flow through Egypt, so it just seems kind of fantastical.
Sputnik: How do you see Hamas reacting to the initiative? Because surely if they were to reject it, it could further undermine their standing in the Gaza strip amongst Palestinians, who are of course in desperate need of freer flows of aid.
Seth Frantzman: I think that at the end of the day none of these proposals will actually happen until Hamas is out of power in Gaza and Gaza is under the control of the Palestinians authority or some sort of unity government, so with Hamas in power it doesn’t matter what happens because there’s no possible way that goods and services can flow into Gaza without having to go through Israel for as long as Hamas is in power because Israel sees Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Sputnik: Are there any signs of what sorts of demands or concessions Cyprus might ask for if it takes part in this? There’s obviously a long standing dispute between Nicosia and Tel Aviv over control of particular maritime zones, do you see Cyprus asking Israel to come to any kind of agreement on these in exchange?
Seth Frantzman: It seems to me that the Cyprus-Israel connection with this discussion about Gaza are part of the growing and warming relationship between Israel and Greece and Cyprus, which has been taking places in the last years. For instance there was some joint military exercises and things that have happened. So I think the whole idea of this port came about because I think Israel is trying to link Cyprus more a little bit with the region.
Sputnik: Well that’s an interesting point, why are there improving relations between Israel on one hand and Cyprus and Greece on the other?
Seth Frantzman: I think the comments by the Turkish president in the last years or so, which have been relatively harsh against Israel and especially supporting the Palestinians in the Jerusalem issue, recalling the ambassador. I think the problems that Israel has been having with Turkey, which used to be a very close, relatively close ally, I think has made Israel decide to reach out, or both sides to reach out more, and see what kind of relationship is there in terms of Cyprus and Greece.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.