Talks on opening a humanitarian aid corridor into north Gaza could yield results soon, Greece’s foreign minister George Gerapetritis said on Friday, a day after meeting his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts.
Greece has repeatedly condemned the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants against Israel and believes its historical ties with the Arab world give it credibility as an honest broker.
“I am in constant communication with both parties and I am relatively optimistic that we could have some positive results soon,” said the minister, who met Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah and Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Jerusalem on Thursday.
With world powers anxious to coordinate help for Palestinians in Gaza during Israel’s bombardment and siege, Gerapetritis said he believed Israel was considering allowing increased aid and was keen to hear all possible options.
Cyprus has made a proposal, which Greece endorses, to open a maritime corridor to expand capacity for relief into the Palestinian enclave beyond the Rafah crossing from Egypt.
Another alternative is via a port in Israel then a northern entry point into Gaza, Gerapetritis said.
“The fastest way is the best way,” he added, stressing that a humanitarian pause in fighting was essential.
Israel’s right to self-defence was respected but must conform to international law and humanitarian values, Gerapetritis added, while the Palestinian people should be clearly differentiated from Hamas.
“We cannot put up with the situation in Gaza,” he said. “It’s the humanitarian moral values that we have to embrace, all of us, and we have to do it immediately.”
After the war, he said, governance of Gaza must be “highly legitimized” and opposed to terrorism.
Asked about a possible influx of refugees, he said Greece was prepared, referring to a recent asylum pact agreed between European Union states, and would be willing to receive injured people.
Handling migration flows has been a tough task for Greece, an EU border, which received more than a million migrants and refugees in 2015-2016 who reached its shores from Turkey.
Greece and Turkey, historic rivals while also NATO allies, will discuss the issue in a summit in Athens next month, which is expected to yield some agreements.
With Turkey labelling Israel a terror state, the Gaza conflict is another issue differentiating the two neighbors, but this should not hinder dialogue, Gerapetritis said.
“This should not prohibit us from discussing our problems and to setting forth in the agenda some win-win projects,” he said.