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Italian foreign minister meets with Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem

Antonio Tajani says Tehran's calls to destroy Israel are a modern form of antisemitism.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with Italian Foreign Minister
Antonio Tajani in Jerusalem, March 13, 2023. Source: Eli Cohen/Twitter.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani in Jerusalem, March 13, 2023. Source: Eli Cohen/Twitter.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Monday met with his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Jerusalem where the two men discussed countering the Iranian threat and strengthening bilateral relations.

The diplomats also signed an agreement on mutual recognition and conversion of Israeli and Italian driver’s licenses, making it easier for the many Israelis who study and work in the European country. The previous agreement expired in 2018.

On Iran, Cohen stressed the need for Europe to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, according to a statement from his ministry.

Tajani said that Tehran’s repeated calls to destroy Israel are a modern form of antisemitism because Israel is the state of the Jewish people.

“Italy is a country of great importance to the State of Israel and to Europe in general. We view it as a true partner and friend to promote moves in the fields of energy and regional security,” said Cohen.

“In light of the special relationship between Israel and Italy, I asked my friend FM Tajani to act to prevent European intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an activity which often encourages incitement and terrorism, as well as to avoid European attempts to influence internal Israeli politics.”

The ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding on holding a political dialogue between their ministries and agreed to strengthen bilateral ties.

Tajani’s visit comes on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent trip to Rome, where on Friday he met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the Chigi Palace.

Netanyahu also met with the heads of dozens of Italian companies and discussed Israeli water innovations in the context of recent Italian droughts and cybersecurity, among other subjects, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“It was a pleasure to be in Rome so it’s a pleasure to see you in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said Monday upon greeting Tajani, who presented the Israeli leader with a cycling shirt in honor of the 2018 Giro d’Italia whose first three stages were held in Israel.

Tajani is a member of the center-right Forza Italia party led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Tajani also serves as deputy prime minister along with Matteo Salvini under the premiership of Meloni.

A visit to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was also on Tajani’s itinerary.

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