Israel ambassador praises Italy's anti-semitism efforts

But Gilon says terror attack here a possibility

22 April, 18:19

    (by Paul Virgo).

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 22 - Israel's Ambassador in Rome Naor Gilon praised Italy's efforts to combat anti-Semitism at an ANSA forum on Wednesday, while acknowledging that a terrorist attack targeting Jewish people was possible here. "Italy is one of the places where the authorities are most aware of the problem and are doing the most to prevent it," Gilon told the forum. "We are appreciative.

    "But we still have negative elements. I think they are fringe elements of society - old types of anti-Semites and the new type who are trying to hit Jews because they say they are against Israel. "But the bottom line was the same for the victims in Belgium and France. They were killed because they were Jews. "In Italy there is the alert of the authorities.

    "Terror can come. It can come in Italy. It can be born in Italy. Everyone is aware". Gilon blasted the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear programme, saying it has taken Tehran nearer to possessing nuclear weapons. "Iran is a nuclear country at the moment, everyone knows that, but it doesn't have nuclear weapons yet," Gilon said.

    "With this agreement it has got closer". Under the deal reached this month with the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany - Iran agreed to reduce its uranium enrichment capacity and submit to increased international inspections in exchange for sanctions relief. But Gilon bemoaned the fact that "not a single facility will be dismantled" as a result of the agreement and said there was a risk of a "conventional and nuclear arms race in the Middle East".

    He also argued that the European Union is hypocritical in its labeling of products from Jewish settlements. "Europe discriminates and is being hypocritical since it doesn't do the same with other conflicts, and it also damages peace," he said. "Those behind this move aim for sanctions against Israel".

    Gilon dismissed arguments that Israeli settlements in occupied territories were an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians, saying this was an excuse used by the other side.

    "Israel has shown that it can dismantle them when it's necessary, as did we when we withdrew from Gaza and Egypt," he said.

    "Even when the settlements were frozen, four years ago, negotiations did not make progress. "Progress is only made when the Palestinians talk to Israel". Gilon hailed his country's relations with Italy at the forum. "Relations between Italy and Israel are very good," Gilon said. "We are very happy. Trade is increasing even in a time of crisis. "There is four billion euros in trade, two thirds in Italy's favour.

    "We have good military contacts and deals. "We have excellent cultural relations. The tourism figures are amazing and show the closeness of Israel, with 350,000 to 400,000 Israeli tourists visiting Italy in the last two years, 5% of our population. That's an amazing figure. "Also on the political level, we don't agree on everything, but we do on the fundamental issues.

    "We are close geographically and in terms of mentality. "We understand Italy's concerns over the threat of extremism in the Middle East. "We share that and understand that Libya and immigrants are big issues for Italy. We feel very close to Italy".

    Gilon said he was hopeful that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin would visit Milan Expo 2015, which kicks off next month and runs until the end of October.

    The ambassador said the World Fair was a priority for Israel because "if something is important to your friend, it's important to you".

    He added that Expo, whose theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, will be an opportunity for Israel to showcase its cutting-edge agriculture technologies, an area of expertise for the country since its birth 67 years ago. (ANSAmed).

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