The first meeting of the Joint Italo-Palestinian Ministerial Committee, held at the foreign ministry in Rome, “defined the comprehensive impetus we wish to give, with the emphasis on economic collaboration and the creation of partnerships between firms”, commented Minister Giulio Terzi at the end of a meeting with his Palestinian colleague Riyad Malki during bilateral meetings at which Italy was also represented by the Ministers for Justice and Culture Paola Severino and Lorenzo Ornaghi respectively. The occasion also offered an opportunity for contact among business persons during a “country presentation” on business opportunities in the Territories “rich in SMEs, artisan enterprises and start-ups that are emerging thanks to Palestinian dynamism”. “Italy supports initiatives of this sort”, said Minister Terzi.
Continuity in Italian Cooperation commitments
Terzi went on to assure the “continuity of commitment” in €100 million in cooperation projects, “despite budget constraints”, and to confirm the “opening of an ICE office in Ramallah”. Malki thanked Italy for this opportunity for encounter which “opens up the possibility to expand cooperation to embrace new contexts”. The renewed collaboration between Italy and the PNA was formalized in eight accords on the sectors of archaeological-cultural tourism, universities and research and justice and trade relations. The two ministers also agreed on a mechanism for bilateral political consultations to be held alternately in Rome and Ramallah.
Regret for victims, condemnation of terrorism
The two ministers’ discussions also included the situation in Gaza, for which Terzi expressed his “sympathies and regret for the many victims, and his solidarity with the Palestinian people”, at the same time reiterating his “firm condemnation of terrorism and the repeated firing of rockets against Israel”. He then expressed his hope that the truce would hold and “not be violated by painful episodes that can occur”, such as the killing of a Palestinian today in Gaza. “A climate of confidence remains” however, thanks to the channels of communication opened by Egypt, Terzi noted, along with his hope in the revival of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, for which Italy “is ready to do its part”.
Upcoming meeting on PNA’s UN request
Directly linked with the peace process is also the request advanced by the PNA to the UN General Assembly, which will vote on it on 29 September, for nonmember status. On this point Malki expressed optimism, and underscored that recognition of a Palestinian State “living in peace and security alongside Israel is the only way to guarantee security in the region”. Terzi announced that the EU countries would be meeting on 27 November to decide on how to vote but would, in any case, have to express “a unified policy” in order to carry greater weight “in the context of the Quartet” and in order to “have a stronger voice in the resumption of peace talks”.