In the light of Italy’s friendship with Israel, Minister for Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi started off from Jerusalem on a Middle East mission aimed at strengthening partnerships and economic cooperation, but also to discuss the region’s delicate balances, the peace process, the Iranian nuclear question and the Syrian crisis.
Italy-Israel: Terzi, building on already robust relations
Terzi met with Israel’s principal leaders –President Shimon Peres, Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – underscoring that “One of Italy’s foreign policy priorities is to continue to build on what are already intense relations with Israel that are not only political but also economic, cultural and “people-to-people”, and lend its “support to an increasingly close cooperation and association between Israel and Europe”. Lieberman, for his part, spoke of “excellent relations with Italy, a country with which we have no sort of problem whatsoever”.
Iranian nuclear question: Terzi, Israeli and Italian security linked
Discussions in Jeruslaem concerned the most important international and regional dossiers, Peres said that the situation was “no longer tolerable as human beings; the bloodbath must be stopped”, while also expressing Israel’s fears concerning Iran’s nuclear programme, which he defined “the biggest problem”, and the hope that diplomatic pressure on Teheran would continue, along with the caveat that “there is a time limit”.
Premier Netanyahu urged that “economic sanctions” be “intensified”, adding his appreciation for “everything Italy and other European countries are doing in this sense, “. Referring to the Iranian nuclear question, Terzi underscored that “Israel’s security and right to life are indivisible from Italy’s security and existence. We cannot imagine an offensive, or worse, an appeal for the destruction of Israel, without fearing for our own security”.
Peace process: Terzi, a new dynamic needed to resolve the conflict
Another inevitable topic of discussion was an Israeli-Palestinian peace process struggling to resume. For Terzi, “in the light of regional developments, a new dynamic is needed to resolve the conflict”. On this point, the minister added, “Italy is hoping that the UN General Assembly is not called upon to vote on an eventual Palestinian request to found a State unilaterally”.
Terzi at Yad Vashem: a stirring experience
Terzi also visited the Mausoleum to Memory Yad Vashem in Jeruslaem where he paid tribute to the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during the Shoah. “A stirring experience”, the described the minister who, in the memorial book, wrote a phrase by Primo Levi: “If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary”, and recalled Eli Weisel’s warning not to remain silent in the face of the humiliation of any human being.
Palestinian Country Presentation
Terzi’s mission will continue on Thursday in Ramallah with meetings with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Riad Maliki that will focus on relaunching dialogue with Israel and cooperation in support of economic development in the Territories, ahead of the “country presentation” planned for Rome in the autumn and the meeting of the Italy- PNA Joint Committee.
A new Egypt in the Mediterranean
Immediately afterward the minister will return to Cairo, where he met in July with newly elected President Mohammad Morsi. This time Terzi will be accompanied by his Greek, Maltese and Cypriot colleagues for a 4-way visit dedicated to the theme of the new Egypt and its relations with Europe and the Mediterranean.