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Italian Foreign Ministry Note. ‘Food for Gaza’ meeting with Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Katz

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajani, today received Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz at the Italian Foreign Ministry (Farnesina) for an operational meeting on the ‘Food for Gaza’ initiative, launched last month in Rome by Deputy Prime Minister Tajani to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“I presented the ‘Food for Gaza’ initiative to Minister Katz at a meeting attended by all the actors involved. I asked that Israel open more land border crossings and make the sea corridor operational immediately to facilitate the arrival of essential goods for the population in the Gaza Strip, especially food and health products”, said the Deputy Prime Minister, adding that “we are extremely concerned about the grave situation unfolding in Gaza, and the initiative we have launched aims to contribute effectively to averting a humanitarian catastrophe”.

“I have also proposed to Minister Katz that a representative of the Israeli Embassy in Rome take part in the Food for Gaza technical table in order to further improve the coordination and effectiveness of the instrument”, said Tajani, emphasising how this proposal was immediately accepted by Katz, who called the Italian initiative “a model”.

In addition to the two Foreign Ministers, the meeting was attended by representatives of FAO and WFP, along with the head of the Italian Civil Protection Department Fabrizio Curcio, and the President of the Italian Red Cross Rosario Valastro, also representing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The Permanent Representative of Italy to FAO and the Italian Director General for Development Cooperation, responsible for the initiative on behalf of the Italian Foreign Ministry, also participated.

During the meeting, concrete actions to be pursued to substantially and decisively increase humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip were discussed. The Italian Government continues to be at the forefront in providing assistance – most recently with a further EUR 20 million contribution from the Italian Development Cooperation programme – and medical care to the Palestinian population, both through the activities of the Vulcano ship and through the transfer to Italy of 58 Palestinian minors in need of medical treatment, as well as the dispatch of medical teams to the United Arab Emirates.

Minister Tajani and Minister Katz also discussed current developments. “I reiterated Italy’s firm belief that Israel’s right to defend itself after the barbaric attack of 7 October could not and should not override its precise obligations to comply fully with international humanitarian law. The number of innocent civilians killed in Gaza is in no way justifiable. Not least due to the devastating effects this would have on the already tormented civilian population in Gaza, Italy continues to strive for peace – Including as the G7 presidency – and is firmly opposed to any ground operation by the Israeli army in Rafah”, said Tajani. The Minister also added that “Italy asks for an immediate ceasefire to ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered and for the release of all hostages, which is essential, before achieving a sustainable and prolonged ceasefire”.

As previously mentioned in a recent telephone conversation to the new Palestinian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammad Mustafa, Tajani reminded Katz that the Italian government supports the ‘two peoples, two states’ solution and that Italy is committed to contributing to a reflection on the future of Gaza, also involving Arab countries.

The Deputy Prime Minister also emphasised the importance of ensuring that human rights be protected; not only the rights of Palestinians, but also of humanitarian personnel, such as the staff of the NGO WCK, tragically involved in military operations that have no justification whatsoever.

Together with Katz, Tajani also had a meeting with a delegation of relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, to whom he renewed the Government’s feelings of closeness and solidarity. The Government continues to devote constant attention to the hostage situation, in particular to the unacceptable treatment given to women prisoners, whose release must take place immediately and unconditionally.

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