(December 20, 2018 / Israel Hayom) The Italian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee held a special session on the Middle East on Wednesday that focused on Iran and Hezbollah.
The session was convened a week after Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini visited Israel and sparked a political firestorm in his country by stating that Hezbollah operatives are terrorists.
President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold attended the session, as did former Italian Parliament member Fiamma Nirenstein, who is currently a JCPA fellow.
Italian Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col currently commands the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIL), whose troops included an Italian contingent. Salvini’s remarks sparked concerns the Italian troops would become targets of Hezbollah revenge attacks.
Several members of Italy’s ruling party, the Five Stars Movement, protested during Wednesday’s session, claiming that Hezbollah, which wields considerable political clout in Lebanon, was “part of the Lebanese people, and therefore, its agents cannot be labeled terrorists.”
Gold rejected this argument, giving several examples of Hezbollah terrorist activities, including the recently discovered grid of attack tunnels Hezbollah has dug under the Israel-Lebanon border.
“Israel has just exposed a fourth tunnel dug from Lebanon into northern Israel,” Gold told the forum. “These tunnels were designed to facilitate the occupation of civilian Israeli territory, to kill civilians or to take them hostage. Is that not terrorism? Keep in mind that Hezbollah invented suicide-bombings long before the Sunnis.”
Gold further stressed that Hezbollah was Iran’s regional proxy, and as such, was aiding Iran’s efforts to export the Islamic Revolution.
In this context, he noted that Iran was consciously acting to carry out a population exchange of in Syria, saying, “They [Iran] are transferring Shi’ite militias and Pakistani, Afghani and Iraqi fighters to Syria.”
Earlier this week, the Italian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee hosted Iranian officials, who reiterated Tehran’s objections to Israel’s existence.
Nirenstein, who prior to immigrating to Israel served as deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government, said that the Europeans must understand that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran was dangerous not only to Israel, but also to Europe.