Economic relations and bilateral trade, not to mention an excellent opportunity to discuss the most pressing regional dossiers, ranging from Syria to the stalled Middle East peace talks, to the Iranian nuclear programme. These were the central themes of the third Italy-Israel intergovernmental summit, the first under the guidance of Premier Mario Monti, since that of June 2011 in Rome during the Berlusconi government.
Arriving in Tel Aviv with a large delegation of ministers that included Giulio Terzi, Monti went on to Jerusalem with a packed agenda of meetings, including those with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Governor of the Central Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer.
A business oriented summit
The summit was a business oriented one that will conclude with the signing of a series of intergovernmental agreements and was centred on three themes: growth, science and culture. The aim is to advance the government’s economic diplomacy agenda aimed at promoting initiatives for facilitating contacts between Italian firms – particularly SMEs – with potential partners abroad, with the presence, along with the government delegation, of IT start-ups and representatives of the scientific community.
The agenda also included the more delicate foreign policy dossiers, which Terzi discussed with his colleague Avigdor Lieberman, beginning with the Iranian nuclear programme, with regard to which, according to Terzi at the end of his meeting, Israel “appreciates the EU’s commitment, especially after the strengthening of sanctions against Teheran”, in the hopes that these might contribute to convincing Iran to comply with UN resolutions.
Terzi and Lieberman also shared their concern over the possible spread of the Syrian crisis, particularly to Lebanon. Terzi reported to his Israeli colleague about recent contacts with representatives of the Syrian oppositions, while Lieberman voiced Israel’s concern about that Palestinian Authority’s attempts to gain non-member status in the UN.