Israel pushes for increased gas exports to Italy

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By Estelle Nilsson-Julien
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, left, welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Chigi Palace government offices in Rome, Friday, March 10, 2023.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, left, welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Chigi Palace government offices in Rome, Friday, March 10, 2023.   -  Copyright  Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country wants to 'increase' its gas exports to Italy.

Netanyahu, who is currently on a three-day visit to Rome, made the announcement during a speech at a for Italian business leaders, with Italy's Business Minister Adolfo Urso. 

Israel already has existing ties with Italian state energy companies ENI and NLDR but wishes to “develop them” further, Netanyahu said.

Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse
Italian Minister of Business Adolfo Urso and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets the media in Rome, Friday, March 10, 2023.Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse

Netanyahu raised the "possibility" of Israel creating an additional liquified natural gas terminal in Cyprus, which would “increase the capacity for gas exportation from Israel to Italy, and from Italy across the rest of Europe”.

Urso responded to Netanyahu by stating "we need to win the challenge of energetic independence and we can do it best together. Italy is working to become a European gas hub and Israel needs to be a strong player in gas production."

Italy - like many other European countries - has been working to break its reliance on Russian gas since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Israel became a gas exporter and producer with the discovery of Mediterranean natural gas reservoirs in the early 2010s.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Republica Thursday, Netanyahu also urged Italy to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He referred to the United States’ decision to do so - under Donald Trump’s Presidency in 2018 - as a "great gesture of friendship".

Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Italian Minister of Business Adolfo Urso and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets the media in Rome, Friday, March 10, 2023.Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Netanyahu’s trip to Italy comes amid a new wave of unrest in Israel and the West Bank.  

On Thursday he met with prominent members of the Jewish community in a Rome synagogue, where his visit was interrupted by the news of an apparent terror attack in downtown Tel Aviv.

And on Friday, a Palestinian man who entered a settlement in the occupied West Bank armed with knives and explosive devices was shot and killed by an Israeli settler, according to the Israeli military.

In recent weeks, the country as also been rocked by protests against Netanyahu's proposed judicial reform. This led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be airlifted Tto the country's main international airport after throngs of cars and protesters prevented him from driving there.