Bepi Pezzulli
Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

The voice of Italy

The anti-Zionist petition by 70 Italian members of parliament is a political misstep and flies in the face of the country’s international alliances.

The new Netanyahu-Gantz government of national unity has announced the annexation of certain settlements in Judea and Samaria. These territories belong to Area C and are under the jurisdiction of Israel since the Oslo Accords of 1993. Furthermore, they were assigned to the Jewish State through the UN partition of 1947, and were occupied illegally by Jordan until 1967. 

In response to the announcement of annexation, 70 Italian MPs from the left — the Democratic Party (PD), Italia Viva and Free and Equal (LeU) — quickly presented an anti-Zionist petition to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, stating that the decision would be a “decisive blow” to the peace process and is in violation of international law. 

The timing of the 70 Italian MPs denouncement is disturbing. On Yom Yerushalayim, which for Muslims coincided this year with the last day of Ramadan, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Alì Khamenei called for “resistance” against the “cancerous tumor of the Zionist regime” and stated that it was an “Islamic duty “ to fight for the “liberation of Palestine.” 

Khamenei aside, the Italian MPs petition, however, has no basis either from a historic or international law perspective. It is a political misstep that harms Italy’s reputation, conflicts with its international alliances, and reveals its longstanding third-world bias that bends human rights activism to partisanship, militancy and ideology.

Italia Atlantica’s Israel analyst Niram Ferretti notes that the Palestinian Authority and its predecessor have refused six times to establish sovereignty over those territories.

During the 2000 Camp David Summit, US President William J. Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a demilitarized Palestinian State that would include the bulk of Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as its capital. Yasser Arafat’s end response was a resounding no. The US envoy for the Middle East Dennis Ross recalls in his memoirs how Clinton lost his temper at a certain juncture and shouted the following at Arafat: “You’ve been here 14 days and have said no to everything”!

In 2008, Ehud Olmert offered Abu Mazen the renewal of Barak’s proposal by showing the Palestinian president a map depicting the Israeli-Palestinian borders. He waited for Abu Mazen’s endorsement, which sadly never came.

In 2009, the Obama administration forced Benyamin Netanyahu to freeze building permits for 10 months in the settlements.

Nothing has ever happened. Nothing perhaps could happen. On the Arab side, the “peace process” is pure fiction. And only the Trump administration, in the plan it proposed in January 2020, has made this abundantly clear. First, the Jewish presence in the territories of Judea and Samaria, under the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine, which was made possible by the San Remo Conference of 1920, is perfectly legitimate under international law. Second, no real peace treaty can take place unless Israel’s right to exist is acknowledged by the Palestinians.

This is the sole issue: the Arab and Islamic rejection of the Jewish state’s right to exist on a soil considered to be endowed to Islam in perpetuity. 

There can never be any peace with either those who have never wanted it or fail to accept Israel not only has the right to exist, but is also part and parcel of the Middle East. 

The 70 Italian MPs cannot equate two “states” with two “democracies.” Israel is a democracy: Israeli Arabs vote and are represented in the Knesset. By contrast, the Palestinians are valuable currency for Hamas’ kleptocracy in Gaza and are held hostages of Fatah’s grass-root politics, which dominates the West Bank.

“The freedom of the West starts under the walls of Jerusalem,” said the late Italian politician Ugo La Malfa, who was an important leader of the Italian Republican Party. His words were meant to be prophetic and infused with great joy, but today they sound urgent and cloaked in deep sadness.

Bepi Pezzulli is head of Foreign Policy for the Italian Republican Party & Executive Director of Italia Atlantica.

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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