Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Milan Council’s Pro-Palestine Motion Sparks Fracas

Duomo Cathedral Square, Milan, Italy - Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash

The Milan City Council has made a highly controversial move by approving a motion that calls for the recognition of the State of Palestine. The motion, which was tabled by councilors Carlo Monguzzi (Green Party), Angelica Vasile (PD), and Enrico Fedrighini (unaffiliated), was passed with 23 votes in favor and 11 against. The 23 in favor were Albiani (PD), Arienta (PD), Barberis (PD), Bottelli (PD), Buscemi (PD), Ceccarelli(PD), Costamagna (PD), Cucchiara (Green Party), D’Amico (PD), De Marchi (PD), Fedrighini (Beppe Sala’s Slate), Giungi (PD), Gorini (Green Party), Mazzei (Beppe Sala’s Slate), Monguzzi (Green Party), Osculati (PD), Pedroni (PD), Pontone (PD), Rabaiotti (PD), Romano (PD), Tosoni (PD), Uguccioni (PD), and Vasile (PD).

The motion commits the city’s mayor and council to advocate for the Italian government to recognize Palestine as a sovereign and independent state, “in line with United Nations resolutions, international law, and the European Parliament’s guidance.” It also expresses “solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to independence, national sovereignty, and peace,” while only paying lip service to the rights of the Israeli people.

Mayor Beppe Sala, who was not present during the vote, had earlier expressed his support for Palestinian statehood, stating, “The Palestinians need to have their own territory, and I am among those who believe that the Palestinian state should be recognized.”

The decision has triggered immediate backlash from Milan’s Jewish community and various political figures. Daniele Nahum, a councilor and representative of the Jewish community, voted against the motion, arguing, “A unilateral recognition makes no sense without a comprehensive framework for peace prospects. I am convinced that the future perspective may well be a two-state solution, but Hamas cannot and should not be part of the negotiation.”

Walker Meghnagi, President of the Jewish Community of Milan, strongly criticized the motion, likening its value to “Monopoly money” and calling it “very serious.” He argued that the motion should have explicitly acknowledged that Gaza has always been free and criticized Hamas’s stance on Palestine “from the river to the sea.” Meghnagi also highlighted that the motion does not spend a single word on the release of hostages still held in Gaza.

Luca Bernardo, FI group leader at Palazzo Marino, labeled the motion a “disgrace” in a statement, condemning the lack of censure against terrorist acts. He said, “This document calls for the recognition of Palestine as a state. Not a single word of condemnation from the left, which unfortunately rules this city, against the terrorists who are committing all kinds of atrocities. This is unacceptable.”

Critics argue that the Milan City Council has overstepped its authority, as municipalities do not have the competence to make decisions on foreign policy. They see this move as a provocation that exacerbates tensions rather than contributing to a peaceful resolution. The motion aligns with the long-standing stance of the left-wing Democratic party (PD) and Mayor Sala himself, but taking the initiative under the circumstances and in light of the ongoing conflict has clearly deepened the divide on the issue.

This ill-conceived decision not only undermines the complex endeavors of international diplomacy but also risks alienating communities within Milan, turning a municipal platform into a battleground for geopolitical conflicts.

About the Author
Giuseppe Levi Pezzulli ("Bepi") is a Solicitor specialised in International financial law and a foreign policy scholar. His research interest is economic statecraft. In 2018, he published "An alternative view of Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), which investigates the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. In 2023, "Brave bucks" (Armando Publishing House), which highlights the role of private capital in the industrial policy mix. Formerly an Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; a pundit for the int'l financial TV channel CNBC; and a Middle East analyst for Longitude magazine. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD). He stood for a seat in the UK Parliament at the general election 2024.
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