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Direct route from Israel to north Cyprus in 2010 – revisited

ferryAlthough in some ways this is old news, the Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper quotes Cafer Gürcafer, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Building Contractors’ Union as saying that ferry services will run between Haifa and Famagusta three times a week, with a launch date at the end of January or at the beginning of February. According to Gürcafer a 650 passenger vessel named “Med Dream” has just arrived from Spain and this would be used for the new service next year.

Many people doubt that this new route can be a reality as they believe this would be tantamount to Israel recognising north Cyprus. In fact a service was started in 2007 by the Akgünler maritime company in north Cyprus running from May to September from Famagusta to the Syrian port of Latakia and then on to the Lebanese port of Tripoli. Greek Cypriots have of course objected to this direct route from Syria to north Cyprus but as the trip to the Lebanon originates from Syria they have not complained to the Lebanese government about that part of the journey. Israel is a different matter however, as this would be a major departure from UN attempts to maintain an embargo on north Cyprus and has the potential to spark other countries to act similarly if Israel were to allow these journeys to continue unchecked. They could point to Israel and ask why that country was being allowed to financially benefit from these trips and because of UN resolutions they weren’t.

For the Famagusta to Lebanon journey, sailings will depart from Famagusta every Monday at 12 noon and return from Latakia every Thursday at 11am.  Apparently, according to Essential Cyprus, ticket prices for a return to Syria cost $310 per person and to Lebanon $155.  The total journey time is a brisk 3½ hours. To find out more about the service you can check Akgünlers website although next year’s schedule is currently unavailable.

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