Netanyahu, Italian FM talk expanded cooperation between nations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano in Jerusalem Wednesday, and the two discussed expanded cooperation between the two countries.

That included “the possibility of widening bilateral economic cooperation in Africa in order to assist African countries in finding solutions to water, agricultural and other problems,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

While the two “expressed their deep appreciation for the state of bilateral relations,” Netanyahu did allude to Italy’s abstention on October’s UNESCO resolution that failed to acknowledge Judaism’s connections to Jerusalem — in line with other EU nations. Netanyahu said Israel would like to see Italy voting against similar resolutions in the future.

Following that vote, Italian then-prime minister Matteo Renzi called the resolution “incomprehensible, unacceptable and wrong.” He explained that Italy voted according to its traditional position along with the EU bloc. Renzi promised to seek to influence other European nations on such matters in future, and said he would consider breaking EU ranks in future votes of such a nature.

However, Renzi has since left office following his defeat in a national referendum on constitutional reform.

Alfano, for his part, spoke of Rome’s “obligation to defend the Italian Jewish community against incidents of anti-Semitism,” according to the statement from the PMO.

In November, Netanyahu told visiting Italian President Sergio Mattarella that Israel was “gravely disappointed” by Italy’s abstention.

Although Israel was disappointed by Italy’s abstention from voting on the UNESCO resolution, Netanyahu said he was encouraged by Renzi’s statement that Italy would change its voting position on future resolutions.

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