Netanyahu tours Rome, meets with Italian PM amid judicial reform row

PM also meets with Italian business executives to discuss opportunities for trade; attempts to convince his counterpart to move the Italian embassy to Jerusalem, while judicial overhaul opponents rally in Rome

Itamar Eichner|
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who traveled to Italy last week for a state visit, explored Rome over the weekend in a private tour. Still, the premier could not get away from reporter questions on the controversial judicial reform being pushed by his government.
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  • As part of his visit, Netanyahu also met Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Over the weekend, he was interviewed by the Italian media on the ongoing mass protests over the judicial overhaul.
    3 View gallery
    ראש ממשלת ישראל בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת איטליה ג'ורג'ה מלוני
    ראש ממשלת ישראל בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת איטליה ג'ורג'ה מלוני
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Giorgia Meloni
    (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
    A source close to Netanyahu said the premier is not opposed to a compromise on the reform, but "we are yet to receive any response from the opposition, despite them having eight weeks to do so in order to establish talks."
    Over the weekend, the news broke about an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic relations, a fact that could put a dent to Netanyahu's planned normalization of ties with the latter.
    The prime minister faulted the agreement and placed the blame on the previous government headed by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, despite the fact that the talks between the two countries began back in 2021, while Netanyahu was still in office.
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    ראש ממשלת ישראל בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת איטליה ג'ורג'ה מלוני
    ראש ממשלת ישראל בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת איטליה ג'ורג'ה מלוני
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Giorgia Meloni
    (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
    The prime minister is also expected to fly to Berlin later this week and return to Israel on Friday.
    A senior Israeli official in Rome said that Netanyahu traveled to Europe "to strengthen Israel's stance on Iran."
    During his visit, Netanyahu also met with representatives of Italian companies he believed could benefit the Israeli market.
    Netanyahu's nearly two-hour long meeting with Meloni was held in Rome's Chigi Chapel, outside of which some 100 protestors rallied against the judicial overhaul.
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    מפגינים ברומא נגד המהפכה המשפטית וביקורו של נתניהו
    מפגינים ברומא נגד המהפכה המשפטית וביקורו של נתניהו
    Protestors against the judicial overhaul in Rome
    (Photo: Alon Wolflier)
    In the meeting between the two, Meloni didn't mention the ongoing protests against the overhaul, and was more concerned about the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.
    Netanyahu, meanwhile, pressed Meloni to agree to move the Italian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
    The prime minister is also working to persuade Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Sources say Netanyahu's chances of convincing Orban are high, and Italy is also likely approve the embassy's move to the capital.
    Meloni and some of her government officials are expected to visit Israel in the summer for the first Italian state visit in a decade.
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