Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is making his first visit to Israel since becoming prime minister last year. It is also his first visit since Italy took over command of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. It is a chance for him to get to know Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and for him to renew contacts with leading figures like former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition.
On the agenda are talks involving relaunching the Middle East peace process, Iran, and Lebanon. Prodi is spending three days in the region, and will also meet the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow. He has also been talking to another former Israeli Prime Minister and now defence minister Ehud Barak.
Prodi is the latest in a posse of politicians to visit the region since the Egyptian summit held following Hamas’s victory in Gaza.