By Mara Vigevani
No matter who governs Italy after this week’s elections that saw populist parties and far right parties claim victory, relations with Israel will continue to be stable, Naor Gilon, Israel’s former ambassador to Italy told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) Tuesday.
According to Gilon, Italy has now three options to create a government: A coalition led by the anti-establishment, populist, Five Star Movement; a right-wing alliance of the anti-migrant far-right League party (formerly known as the Northern League) together with the center-Right Forza Italia party (led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ); or, if the parties do not succeed in creating a stable coalition, Italian President Sergio Mattarella can also decide to create a technocratic government.
Italy’s elections left the country in a political deadlock, where the governing center-left Democratic Party (PD) received just 19% of votes, a historic low, while the Five Star Movement topped the ballot with 32% and the League finished third with 17.5%, while Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party got only 14% .
Gilon said that ties between Israel and Italy are strong at all levels and would remain so no matter what the final outcome of coalition negotiations. Regarding the Five Star Movement, which declared before the elections that Lorenzo Fioramonti, a staunch supporter of BDS, would be their candidate for Economic Development Minister, Gilon is also optimistic, despite the fact that the party’s leader Luigi Di Maio has declared in the past that his government would officially recognize the ‘State of Palestine.’
“Without a doubt the Five Star Movement is problematic,” said Gilon, who was based in Rome from 2012 to 2016. “In the past, the embassy had problems with some the party’s officials because of their anti-Israeli declarations, but in politics ‘what you do not see from here, you can see from there’ and the leaders of the party will not behave in government as they did in opposition. Their leader Di Maio is very open regarding Israel.” [Di Maio visited Israel in 2016 at the head of a Five Star Movement delegation]
Gilon notes that a populist party, Syriza, with anti-Israeli politics, also came to power in Greece, “but now Greece understands the importance of Israel and diplomatic relations are very good.”
“Government usually moderate people,” he said.
“Realpolitik always wins in the end,” he added. “Although Beppe Grillo (the comedian who founded the Five Star Movement) is not a lover of Zion, politicians have to deal with reality. Israel’s good relations with the United States will certainly influence decisions.”
If the League and Forza Italia build a coalition, then relations between Italy and Israel will grow even stronger, Gilon predicted.
“Relations between Israel and Forza Italia have always been very strong,” Gilon said. “Berlusconi is very pro Israel. Also, League leader Matteo Salvini, who I know, is very friendly toward Israel.”