Mitsotakis to Palestine PM: Greece wants to play an important role in dealing with people's misery in Gaza

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasised his growing concern for civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip and underlined the need for humanitarian pauses to ensure a steady flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza in the meeting he had on Thursday morning with his Palestinian counterpart Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh before the start of the conference held in Paris.

Mitsotakis also reiterated Greece's readiness to assist with humanitarian aid and that Greece is in contact with the Republic of Cyprus and the partners involved on the possibility of creating a humanitarian corridor by sea to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh

The prime minister emphasised that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and that it does not represent the Palestinian people; he reiterated that the only legal representative of the Palestinian people is the Palestinian Authority and emphasised Greece's long-standing support for the two-state solution.

Finally, he noted that only a political solution on this basis can guarantee peace between Israelis and Palestinians and stability in the region.

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At the beginning of their meeting, the two prime ministers had the following dialogue:

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I am glad to see you.

Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh: The joy is mine. I hope to see you under different circumstances.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Yes, I was ready to say that it would be good to meet under different circumstances, but it was important for Greece to be here.

We want to play a very important role in addressing the misery of the people in Gaza, and we want to see how we can help in these very difficult conditions.

Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh: We must break the embargo. The siege of Gaza was a slow death for everyone, especially the wounded. It's not just food but also medical supplies.

Our main concern is really to be able to treat the wounded. That's who you're talking about, 26,000 people. I am curious to know how many of them will survive. Apart from food and other humanitarian issues, our priority is to deal with this danger.

If you and we can find a way to provide that humanitarian aid through any avenue possible, that would be a good idea. Of course, for us, as you know, the most important thing is that whatever we do will not be used as a way for people to leave.

This is something we want to avoid completely because we know what Israel's intentions are. The Israelis intend to expel as many Palestinians as possible.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh

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Images from Proto Thema.

Delegations from more than 80 countries and organisations are gathering in France for a conference on providing aid to civilians amid Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, with proposals for a humanitarian maritime corridor and floating field hospitals.

Since the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel has retaliated by imposing a “complete siege” that has restricted the entry of food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip, and a relentless bombing campaign that has killed more than 10,000 people, half of whom are children, according to Palestinian authorities.

Several European countries, the United States and regional powers like Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries as well as officials from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations are expected to attend the Paris gathering on Thursday, the French presidency said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for a “humanitarian pause” in the war, wants the conference to address the besieged Palestinian enclave’s growing needs, including food, water, health supplies, electricity and fuel.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the UN’s top aid official and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are expected to provide details about urgent needs in the Gaza Strip.

Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides will present his plan for a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza, which he has said aims for a “sustained, secure high-volume flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza in the immediate, medium and long term”.

French officials said they are also considering evacuating injured people onto hospital ships in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Gaza coast.

Paris sent a helicopter carrier off the Cyprus coast and is preparing another with medical capacities on board for that purpose.

Thursday’s discussions will also include financial support and other ways to help Gaza’s civilians.

On Tuesday, the German government said it will provide 20 million euros in new funding, in addition to releasing 71 million euros ($75.9m) already earmarked for the UNRWA following a review it launched after the Hamas attack.

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are also attending the conference.

The 27-nation bloc is the world’s top aid supplier to the Palestinians. It has sent almost 78 million euros ($83.4m) this year.

Israeli authorities will not participate in Thursday’s conference, the Elysee said.

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