Photo: Haim Zach (GPO)

Israeli, Italian PMs hold talks in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed wide-ranging regional and international matters during his meeting with visiting-Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

By Erin Viner

“Prime Minister of Italy, my friend, Mario Draghi, I want to welcome you and your entire delegation to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal united capital and the beating heart of the Jewish people,” said Prime Minister Bennett, according to a statement from his office.

“My friend, it is here in Jerusalem where the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Romans began, and it could be said that our relationship today is somewhat better,” he added on a light note, in reference to the brutal conquest of ancient Jerusalem by Rome.

The leaders held a private meeting followed by an expanded meeting between the sides with the participation of Energy Minister Karine Elharrar.

They discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, strategies to combat the global food crisis; as well as avenues to advance cooperation in the energy sector focused on the potential for Israel to export natural gas to Europe via Egypt.

Following the meeting, Prime Minister Bennett stated that, “Our two great nations, Italy and Israel, serve as examples of modern independence restored in ancient homelands, two nations which are heirs to the principles and ideals of their ancestral roots and two nations which made significant contributions to the advancement of civilization and developed society.”

Saying that he and his Italian counterpart are “privileged to lead these great nations to success,” Bennett asserted that their own “unique governments that are unprecedented in Israel or Italy” have “helped our countries restore economic stability, and we’re both determined to act with pragmatism and conviction for the prosperity and security of our peoples.”

Pointing to a well-known speech nearly a decade ago in which Prime Minister Draghi revealed his “’do whatever it takes’ approach,” Bennett pledged that he, too, “do whatever it takes to take the relations between Israel and Italy to a new level.”

The Israeli leader also took the opportunity to announce that Jerusalem and Rome have agreed to hold a G2G (government-to-government summit) in Israel as early as this year after a nine-year freeze, which he called “a very important step.”

Prime Minister Bennett concluded his remarks by thanking the Italian Premier, whom he called “amico mio” (Italian for “my friend”), for his “abiding friendship towards the Jewish people, for your firm stance against anti-Semitism, and for your strong partnership with the Jewish State, the State of Israel.”

Insieme siamo forti,”said the Israeli leader, translating, “We are stronger, together.”