Italy has said ties between the EU and Israel must be strengthened.
Israel’s controversial foreign minister is in Rome for the first stop of a four-nation European tour. It is the first official visit overseas by a member of the new right-wing government. Avigdor Lieberman’s trip comes at a tense time for EU-Israeli relations. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart and referring to an upcoming visit by the Pope to the Middle East, Lieberman said it was not only important to improve relations with moderate Arab states. He said dialogue between what he described as the oldest and most important faiths in the world, Christianity and Judaism, should be promoted. The EU is interested to see if Israel will make any indication as to its peace plans with the Palestinians. The bloc has frozen negotiations on granting Israel a special status that embraces diplomacy, politics and trade, unless the new right-wing government endorses a two-state solution with its Palestinian neighbours.