Today our two countries, Italy and Israel, share a special relationship. Though we have roots in antiquity, our two countries energetically embrace the future. We’re both vibrant democracies. We both guarantee equal rights to all our citizens.
Prime Minister Renzi, buonasera my friend. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Jerusalem.
I am very glad to have the opportunity to reciprocate to you and your delegation the warm welcome that you showed me and my delegation in Rome last year.
You come to Jerusalem. The connection between Rome and Jerusalem dates back over two thousand years. I believe that everybody recognizes that many of the foundations of Western civilization were laid in our two ancient capitals.
And in the modern period, the Italian national movement had a decisive influence and impact on the Jewish national movement. The founding fathers of Zionism, Hess, Herzl, Jabotinsky, Trumpledor, drew tremendous inspiration from the example of Italy of restoring modern independence in an ancient homeland.
Today our two countries, Italy and Israel, share a special relationship. Though we have roots in antiquity, our two countries energetically embrace the future.
We’re both vibrant democracies. I’m sure you can tell me about how vibrant Italian democracy I, and tomorrow in the Knesset, you may have a glimpse of how vital Israeli democracy is. We both guarantee in our democracies equal rights to all our citizens. We’re both creative and dynamic societies. We both have modern, hi-tech economies.
Our friendship is strong and I believe we can make it much stronger by cooperating among the things that we’re going to talk about – in economy, in trade, in technology, in defense, in cyber security, in many, many other fields.
Our friendship is expressed in our regular Government to Government meetings. It’s reflected in Israel’s successful cooperation with you in Expo 2015 in Milan, which I hope to visit.And it’s demonstrated, Matteo, in your and Italy’s unequivocal opposition to anti-Semitism and Italy’s vocal support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security in recognized boundaries.
I think that our relationship is one that I personally believe and you personally believe can go to much higher levels, even higher than today, and they’re pretty high as it is.
Mr. Prime Minister,
Earlier today I met US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. I told him that the deal with Iran poses grave threats to Israel and the Middle East, to Europe and the world. It will put Iran at the threshold of an entire nuclear arsenal within a decade, because at that time the deal permits Iran to build as many centrifuges as it wants and to enrich as much uranium as it wants, which means that Iran could break out in a decade or so to dozens of nuclear bombs in zero time.
And almost immediately, starting from this year, as the deal passes, the deal will give Iran hundreds of billions of dollars to bankroll its aggression in the region and its terrorism around the world.
That’s more money for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, more money for the Quds Force, for Hezbollah, for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for the Libyan proxy terrorists of Iran, more money for the Shiite militias in Iraq, for the Houthis in Yemen.
This bad deal is a historic mistake. Now, we’re repeatedly told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. Yet today we are told that the whole world supports this bad deal. Well, that’s just not true. Israel and many Arab states oppose this deal.
And in any case sometimes the entire world can be wrong. It was dead wrong on another nuclear deal – the one with North Korea. We were told then by the international community, the scientific community, the arms control community that that deal would prevent North Korea from getting nuclear weapons and it would make the world safer. Well, we all know how that turned out.
Mr. Prime Minister,
Europe and Israel are threatened by the very same forces. Italy and Israel cooperate in many ways to meet these challenges. We both want to see security, prosperity and peace in the Mediterranean region and beyond. We both want to see Israel achieve a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Let us work together to achieve these goals.
Italy is our ally. Italy is our partner. Italy is our friend. Once again, my friend, it’s a pleasure to welcome you here in Jerusalem.