Italy favours Israel joining EU

05.22.03

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met with leaders of the World Jewish Congress and stated his favourable position on Israel joining the European Union:

“In the future, Europe must include Israel,” Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is reported to have said at a meeting with World Jewish Congress leaders on Wednesday. “We look on Israel as a European nation to all intents and purposes: Cultural, economic and political.” Italy takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency in July, possibly coinciding with the verdict of Berlusconi’s 3-year bribery trial.

Ahead of the presidency, Berlusconi plans to visit Israel in the first week of June. “I will go to Israel to meet the prime minister [Ariel Sharon] and I will have no meetings with the Palestinian leadership,” a WJC spokesman quoted Berlusconi as saying at the meeting.

He also pledged to promote sympathy for Israel in Europe, fight anti-Semitism, and work to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace.

[ . . . ]

In March 2002 Berlusconi surprised Europeans when he said that both Israel and Russia should join the Union.

Marco Pannella, an Italian member of the European Parliament and president of the Transnational Radical Party, is promoting the initiative, United Press International reports. On Tuesday he told reporters in Israel that support was growing in the European Parliament for Israel to join the EU.

Such a step, though distant in the future at best, would help drastically in reducing Israel’s pariah status among the nations, largely imposed by its Arab neighbour states and their oil bribery. However, more importantly it means that the next president of the EU will be a much better friend to Israel, possibly ushering in a six-month period to try to reverse some of the negativity that has corrupted the body in the past couple of years.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 James 05.27.03 at 4:11 AM

This whole Israel-in-the-EU thing is, in my opinion, a bad idea. And bad for Israel.

One of the central ideas that legitimates the Arab League countries’ fight against Israel’s existence — or, in its institutional version, against “normalization” — is the one that says that Jews aren’t really a people, and certainly not a Middle Eastern people; that, rather, Jews are a bunch of mostly-European foreign nationals.

So, for example, Israel doesn’t get included in just about any Middle Eastern diplomatic association, right down to being left out of the Asian Cup; they play in the Europe grouping instead, since Europe was willing to have them.

That’s what needs to change. Promoting linkages between Israel and Europe is nice, as long as the difference between the two is understood and underlined. Israel isn’t in Europe; it’s in the Middle East, despite the best efforts of just about every Arab League government to pretend otherwise.

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