Israel ready to help transform Italy into energy hub: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during an official inauguration ceremony at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on Dec. 29, 2022. Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving Israeli leader, returned to power on Thursday as the country's prime minister at the helm of an extreme-right coalition. (JINI via Xinhua)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to help energy-starved Italy transform into a regional energy hub during his visit to the Italian capital.

After meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Netanyahu said he wanted to increase natural gas exports to Europe via Italy.

Such a move would be welcome in Italy, which has struggled to replace natural gas imports from Russia.

Netanyahu and Meloni did not reveal the specifics of the import scheme.

“Italy has said it wants to be a hub for the supply of energy to Europe,” said Netanyahu. “We think exactly the same thing, and we have gas reserves that we will start exporting, and we would like to expedite more gas exports to Europe through Italy.”

In November last year, Israel signed an initial agreement with Italian energy giant Eni and France’s TotalEnergies to facilitate explorations for natural gas near Israel’s Mediterranean border with Lebanon. Netanyahu mentioned the deal with Eni on Friday and said he would like to see it carried “to a much higher level.”

Netanyahu vowed to build deeper ties with Italy in other sectors as well, including water supplies and cyber-security.

Meloni said Italy’s ties with Israel were “important … and would increase in importance.”

Netanyahu will remain in Italy through Sunday, meeting with political, business and religious leaders. ■

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