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Israel ready to let ships bring aid to Gaza’s shores – FM Eli Cohen

Israel must be prepared to totally disengage from Gaza, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said as he prepared to transfer his office to Israel Katz on Monday, in fulfillment of a power-sharing agreement.

  • “There must be a complete disconnect between Israel and Gaza,” Cohen told the Tel Aviv radio station 130 FM.

He explained how in the future, Israel would no longer be the primary transfer hub for goods heading into the enclave although it would retain security control of the small coastal strip.

Among the alternative options for the transport of goods dddwould be land passage through Egypt’s Rafah crossing which would be expanded to handle such traffic and or through a sea corridor that could be developed from Cyprus to the enclave.

  • “It can start immediately,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM when asked about the Mediterranean corridor.

He said Britain, France, Greece and the Netherlands were among countries with vessels able to land directly on the shores of Gaza, which lacks a deep-water port.

He appeared to suggest he expected them to do that rather than offload aid in Israel.

FM Cohen: ships will go directly to Gaza, not stop in Israel on the way

The plans are among many projects Cohen is involved in, as he prepares to transfer to the post of Energy and Infrastructure Minister, which Katz has held for the last year. The two men will once again switch roles in two years, should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government still be in office at the start of 2026.

  • The power sharing plan was agreed upon last year when Netanyahu took office, but it was formally approved by the government on Sunday.

The formal handover of the offices is expected to take place Monday, following the Knesset approval of the move. Katz has in the past also floated a plan for a sea corridor for Gaza goods, one of course, which would allow for Israel to monitor the contents of the shipments to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza as has occurred in the past.

  • Israel is prepared to let ships deliver aid to Gaza “immediately” as part of a proposed sea corridor from Cyprus, Cohen told 103 FM.

Under the arrangement first suggested by Nicosia in November, the cargo would undergo security inspection in the Cypriot port of Larnaca before being ferried to the Gaza coast, 370 km (230 miles) away, rather than through neighboring Egypt or Israel.

Israel, including Cohen, has described the corridor as a means of ending its civilian ties to Gaza, where it has been waging a 12-week-old offensive in retaliation for a cross-border killing and kidnapping spree by Hamas gunmen.

With most of Palestinian civilians in Gaza displaced, the idea may also go some way toward meeting a U.N. Security Council resolution of Dec. 22 calling for expanded humanitarian relief mechanisms.

To help expedite that aid, Israel has temporarily reopened its Kerem Shalom Crossing, but believes that after the war, Israel can no longer be a transit hub for Gaza goods.

  • “They requested of us that the equipment come via (the Israeli port of) Ashdod. The answer is no. It won’t come via Ashdod. It won’t come via Israel. We want disengagement, with security control. That’s the goal of this process,” Cohen said.

Britain and Greece have previously expressed support for the Cypriot initiative, with Britain offering shallow-bottomed vessels to approach the Gaza coast, a senior Cypriot official told Reuters.

  • Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also backed the Cypriot plan, which would involve Israeli security agents taking part in the Larnaca inspections.
  • “As of now there is a maritime blockade, and if such an (aid) ship comes from Larnaca, it will be with our approval,” Cohen said.
  • “It will of course be a secured corridor, as we have no intention of endangering a British or French ship coming in coordination with us.”

Source: JPost