Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

The Five Star Party: Anti-Zionist Witch-Hunters

There he goes again. Italian Foreign Minister and Leader of the Five Star Party Luigi Di Maio chose, during his visit to Israel and the West Bank, which began October 28th, to restate his deep-seated obsession. “Italy” – he said – “urges the revival of dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on the basis of the two-State solution and the restoration of international law.” He continued stating, “We therefore join the European Union’s call to Israel today to stop immediately the large-scale demolition of Palestinian homes and schools in the West Bank.”

Di Maio is a “Pasdaran” of the two-State solution and remains firmly committed to the concept of “land for peace.” Yet, despite his overzealous rhetoric he not only overlooks the difference between two States and two democracies, but also fails to understand the new Middle East reality underway that has initiated a divergent equilibrium throughout the region. The latter has brought Israel and the Sunni Monarchies together to form a common front against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood and to pursue a strategy of “peace for economic development and regional stability.” The Palestinians have never been so isolated within the Arab world because the latter are no longer willing to allow them to use the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a way to cover up their outrageous governance shortcomings. By failing to acknowledge this, and by ignoring both the Abraham Accords and the Trump peace plan, Di Maio does a disservice to Italian foreign policy, demonstrating an ideological bias that harms the country’s international reputation at a time when it needs to preserve it the most. The stakes are high from cooperation in aerospace and defence sectors to the construction of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EastMed) pipeline: It is imperative for Rome to be seen as a reliable partner to Israel. Out-dated pro-Palestinians drifts serve no one, let alone the Palestinians themselves.                                                                                                                                                                The senators of the Five Star Party who sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee have endorsed Di Maio’s antics in a note released on November 5th. “This week alone – wrote the Five Star senators – bulldozers escorted by the Israeli army have destroyed seventy buildings where eleven Palestinian families with dozens of children lived. Israel also threatens to destroy fifty schools, including that of Ras Al-Teen which was built with EU funding, which has already been damaged by the Israeli authorities.”

The Five Star senators went on to state the following: “Depriving children of the right to housing and education is a blatant violation of human rights and a clear obstacle to peace. The Five Star Party, which has always been convinced that there can be no peace in the Middle East without justice, reiterates the urgent need for the international recognition of the State of Palestine in order to restore international law.”

The Five Star Party is aggressively anti-Zionist. Its leaders have not only repeatedly raised controversy, but have also frequently crossed the line into anti-Semitism. One of its senior party figures, Elio Lannutti, is currently under investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Bureau of Rome for the crime of defamation aggravated by racial hatred in relation to tweets referring to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Senator Lannutti embraced the fabricated 1903 anti-Semitic text that purports a Jewish plan for global domination, which was subsequently used to justify pogroms throughout Russia and elsewhere throughout Europe.

During the short span of one single legislature, the Five Star Party has significantly contributed to Italy’s moral and political bankruptcy. As the Covid-19 pandemic hits the country hard, their economic recipes – borrow money and subsidy all – will cause public debt to swell to a whopping 160% of GDP by the end of this year. The Five Stars Party also sees competency as an obstacle to democracy. To put taxpayers’ money where their mouth is, on August 8th, they appointed their junior MP Sergio Battelli, formerly a clerk in a pet shop, to the crucial chairmanship of the EU Affairs Committee of the lower house of parliament. They have entrusted into Battelli’s hands the power to lead the parliamentary committee’s Recovery Fund proposal – Next Generation EU – that will manage the allocation of 209 billion euro loans granted to Italy.

Among foreign policy faux pas and economic insanity, Italy’s financial bankruptcy looks no longer a matter of if, but of when.

About the Author
Bepi Pezzulli is a Solicitor specialised in International law and a foreign policy adviser covering Israel, the UK and the US. In 2018, he published "The other Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), investigating the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. Currently, he is Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; and a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).
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