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Israeli right pleased with Italy's next prime minister

Italy's next Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is being fawned over by the Israeli right while the rest of the political spectrum treads carefully.

Incoming Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s election victory was met with conflicting reactions in Israel and a subdued response from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Meloni, a far-right politician who heads the Brothers of Italy party, is now set to serve as the country’s next prime minister. Unsurprisingly, the first Israelis to congratulate her were members of the Likud party, including former Minister Gila Gamliel and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu called Meloni personally to offer his congratulations and his son Yair tweeted Sept. 25, “Congratulations Giorgia Meloni and the conservative camp in Italy!”

Lapid waited a week to release a carefully worded and reserved message that bears neither Lapid’s nor Meloni’s name. It reads: “Israel congratulates the Italian people for finishing the election and looks forward to continuing the cooperation and friendship with the government that will be established and with the Italian people, with an emphasis on the areas of the economy, energy, water, innovation and cyber, in addition to fighting antisemitism and protecting the memory of the Holocaust together.”

The belated and vague message reflects uncertainties behind the scenes with Israel's own elections just weeks away.

Lapid has always had reservations about far-right/ultranationalist parties and their leaders, as seen in the diplomatic crisis with the ultranationalist Polish government over 2021 legislation limiting restitution rights of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. He did not offer any congratulations to the far-right Sweden Democrats on their achievement in last September's elections and has always avoided contact with far-right French politician Marine Le Pen. In contrast, he is known for his warm relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, whose political positions and values are similar to his own. Lapid often speaks about universal values and his repulsion toward parties and leaders with arguable affinities for Nazism, fascism and racism.

Gamliel was quick to warmly congratulate Meloni. The two women know each other through the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe. Meloni responded that she intends to strengthen ties with Israel.

Other right-wing Israeli leaders also welcomed Meloni’s victory. Jewish Home leader and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted in a video message, “Congratulations to Giorgia Meloni on her victory. The right won in Italy, and it will win in Israel too. And yes, women can do anything, and that includes leading a country.”

From the left, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On mocked Shaked’s message in a tweet of her own: “Yes, women can be anything they want, and that includes being fascists.” Shaked responded sharply, tweeting, “Zehava, don’t give up. I’m sure that when some anti-Israel leftist is elected in some country, you will rush to congratulate him.”



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