Israel ‘deeply concerned’ about Turkish ‘provocations’ in Cyprus

Israel has repeatedly expressed support for Cyprus in the past week, after Turkish Cypriots reopened Varosha, a resort that became a no-man’s-land after Turkey invaded the ethnically divided island.

A woman walks while holding Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags inside an area fenced off by the Turkish military since 1974, in the abandoned coastal area of Varosha, a suburb of the town of Famagusta in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, October 8, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/HARUN UCAR)
A woman walks while holding Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags inside an area fenced off by the Turkish military since 1974, in the abandoned coastal area of Varosha, a suburb of the town of Famagusta in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, October 8, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/HARUN UCAR)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed solidarity with Cyprus on Monday as Turkey consolidated its presence in the northern part of the Eastern Mediterranean island.

“We share the deep concern over the provocative moves that Turkey is making in Cyprus,” he said in a meeting with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Jerusalem.

In addition to discussing bilateral relations in the areas of trade, water and energy, the ministers discussed “the necessary steps that can be taken on the matter,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel has repeatedly expressed support for Cyprus over the past week after Turkish Cypriots reopened Varosha, a resort that became a no-man’s-land after Turkey invaded the ethnically divided Mediterranean island in 1974, and Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan called for “two states” in a recent speech in the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia.

Turkey is the only country that recognizes Northern Cyprus. Greek Cypriots oppose a two-state solution on the grounds that the breakaway state in the north is illegal.

“Israel is following with deep concern recent unilateral Turkish actions and statements regarding the status of Varosha,” the Foreign Ministry said last week. “Israel reiterates its solidarity and full support for Cyprus.”

Relations between Israel and Greece and Cyprus have flourished in recent years, especially in the energy sector, where they are working together on the EastMed natural-gas pipeline, as well as military cooperation.

Israel-Turkey ties have soured over the past decade. In recent years, Erdogan has harbored Hamas terrorists, has accused Israel of genocide and has called on Palestinians to take up arms to defend Jerusalem. He also expelled Israel’s ambassador.