You not only stand by us against our enemies and slanderers. You also bring Israel closer to Europe.

 PM Netanyahu addresses Knesset session in honor of the Prime Minister of Italy

 

Photo: GPO

[Translation]

The entire Israeli Knesset warmly welcomes you, with generosity and deep appreciation, as a true friend and faithful supporter of the Jewish people…

Mr. Prime Minister,

This is not your first visit to the State of Israel, nor is it our first meeting. However, every such meeting is a pleasant opportunity to express our appreciation for your principled, firm and consistent stand regarding Israel’s right to live in peace with security, and Israel’s right to an active and decisive self-defense.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, you are a courageous leader who stands by Israel at all times. And it is important that the citizens of Israel will know just how consistent your support for us is.

Under your leadership, Italy is spearheading Europe’s battle against anti-Semitism and the battle to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. Italy was one of the leading nations to demonstrate moral clarity and boycott the Second Durban Conference. It did not take long for you to decide. It happened right away. Recently, you once again took a firm stand against another attempt to besmirch Israel – the distorted Goldstone Report, which undermines Israel’s right to defend itself and encourages terrorism worldwide, thereby sabotaging the prospects of peace.

However, even before this, you led a welcome, just and courageous initiative to include Hamas on the European Union’s list of terror organizations.

You not only stand by us against our enemies and slanderers. You also bring Israel closer to Europe. You championed the idea that we join the European Union, and you also reiterated it during your current visit. Moreover, you supported Israel’s inclusion in the NATO alliance because you said, and I quote: "it is important that they know that an attack against Israel by Iran would be considered as an attack against Europe as a whole".

Under your leadership, the relations between our peoples and countries have further developed and deepened. Italy has become one of Israel’s closest friends in Europe and the world.

For all of these reasons, Israel knows that it has a great friend in Europe, in the shape of Silvio Berlusconi.

Our people were heartwarmed by your statements at an interview on the eve of your visit to Israel regarding your experiences during your visit to Auschwitz, the perseverance and heroism shown by the Jewish people in building its state following the calamity, and our adherence to establishing a glorious democracy in the difficult Middle Eastern reality.

But above all, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to commend you on your statements regarding the battle against the threat of a nuclear Iran. I want to repeat your statements exactly as they were made because I believe it is important that the words of a leader who is not only a friend of Israel’s, but who is also concerned for world peace, will be registered in the Knesset protocols. I quote:

"The entire international community must decide and unanimously declare – clearly and unequivocally – that it will not tolerate, as a matter of principle, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a country whose leaders have openly declared their desire to destroy Israel and who have denied both the Holocaust and the legitimacy of the existence of a Jewish national home… the tragedy of World War II and the extermination of the Jews of Europe did not begin on September 1, 1939 with the invasion of Poland. It began with the capitulation of the democratic regimes in Munich; it began with the spirit of Munich which promised ‘peace in our time’ and in fact paved the way for one of the greatest calamities in the history of mankind…"

Mr. Prime Minister, I myself fully support these clear and resolute statements, and I assure you that the overwhelming majority, if not all, of the members of this house, and the citizens of Israel, join me in doing so. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, our trusted friend.

This visit to Israel, the joint discussions we held with our government ministers on a variety of important issues, the signing of nine important agreements, and of course the personal, serious and in-depth talks we held – I know that all of these will provide new momentum to the excellent relations between Italy and Israel. However, in conclusion, I wish to add another element.

I wish to share with you and the members of the Knesset a special story that touched my heart. It is a story about an Italian woman during World War II. On the train, on her way to work, this woman observed a German policeman arresting a Jewish girl. The Italian woman, who was then eight months pregnant, came between the German officer and the Jewish woman. Without an ounce of fear she confronted the German officer and told him: "You can kill me, but look at the faces of the passengers on the train. I assure you, they will not let you out of here alive". With these decisive words, that Italian woman saved the life of the Jewish girl. She lit, if only for a second, a beacon of human light and courage in the great darkness that covered the entire land of Europe at the time. That brave woman was named Rosa, and one of her children is Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister.

Your brave mother, Silvio, bequeathed to you the courage to stand strong in favor of truth, freedom and justice. And you, my friend, have become the courageous leader who stands by us. Not only in Italy do you enjoy the people’s support and admiration. Here in Israel, in the Jewish state, you have won our people’s hearts.

My friend, in the name of all the people of Israel, I want to say to you: we respect you, we embrace you, and we love you. Welcome to Jerusalem.