Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Italy: Israel 'under siege' over Iranian threat and need encouragement, says PM

Often it feels like we are writing 1938 and not 2008 when reading the news, a sinister similarity.

From: AKI

Rome, 4 June (AKI) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi saidon Wednesday Israel was 'under siege' over what it perceived to be Iran's intention to pursue nuclear weapons.

"We must realise that Israel feels under siege at the moment," said Berlusconi,when asked if negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the Gaza Strip were possible.

"The threats, coming from a leader that seems to have the intention of pursuing nuclear weapons, cause distress to a government and its people," he said, making clear reference to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Berlusconi was speaking at a joint media conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after a bilateral meeting between the leaders in the Italian capital Rome.

Meanwhile, Mubarak said that no serious negotiations could take place between Israelis and Palestinians unless Israel stopped the construction of new settlements .

"If they do not stop them (construction of settlements), we cannot carry out serious negotiations," said Mubarak.

Last Sunday, Israeli authorities announced the construction of 884 new housing units in two East Jerusalem settlements, enraging Palestinian negotiators.

The next day, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert travelled to Washington.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, as they are built on Palestinian land, and in the area Palestinians have earmarked as their capital in a future state.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital after annexing it following the 1967 Six-Day War.

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