Fiamma Nirenstein of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs says that Italy’s leading Five Star party supports boycotting Israel.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News, with additional reporting by AP
A rival pair of populist and stridently anti-European Union political forces surged in Italy’s election for Parliament, but without enough support to govern the country alone, projections showed early Monday. With the prospect of a hung Parliament looking increasingly likely, Italy faces a difficult path to the formation of a viable government. “Ungovernable Italy” headlined daily newspaper La Stampa as election results rolled in.
Speaking from Rome, former Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein told World Israel News (WIN), “The anti-establishment Five Star party that finished first in the election is very dangerous for Israel because it is outspokenly pro-BDS and generally ignorant of any history or political balance. I expect that the right wing anti-migrant parties can band together to form a government.”
“Unfortunately former president Berlusconi’s party which is very pro-Israel finished with fewer than 14% of the vote. The right wing La Ligo finished second with 19 percent and they are the second big winner. They are right wing and not at all anti-Israel. Anything can still happen with the formation of a new government. But if Five Star is leading the coalition, it could be a very anti-Israel government indeed,” Nirenstein said.
The results are a victory for anti-EU parties and generally point to a Eurosceptic shift in Italy. RAI State TV projections showed the two parties with the most Eurosceptic platforms — the Five Star and the League — together topping the 50% needed to rule Italy. The Five Star Movement was projected to receive 32.5% of the vote, the League nearly 18%.
In projections based on samples from Sunday’s voting, a center-right coalition that included former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the anti-immigrant League and a small far-right party had a slight lead over the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
At the same time, the north-based League, led by Matteo Salvini, was widening its lead on campaign partner Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s party. Projections gave the League 17.7% compared to Forza Italia’s 13.3%. If the final results have the League topping the prevailing coalition, it would determine the tenor of post-election talks on forming a new government and deal another blow to Berlusconi’s political fortunes.
Salvini, 43, who has never held public office in Italy, fed public anger at the EU’s inability to help handle hundreds of thousands of migrants who flooded the country in recent years after being rescued while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The leader of Five Star and its candidate for premier is 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, who has never held a job of any kind. The Five Star Movement considers itself an internet-based democracy, not a party, and views the established parties collectively as a parasitic caste. Whether Di Maio might accept a coalition government deal with the League, which served in all three of Berlusconi’s governments and therefore is the kind of establishment party the Movement loathes, was unclear.
Di Maio led a Five Star delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2016. He reportedly did and said all the “right” things as the delegation met with Knesset members, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and a memorial to Israeli victims of terror, condemned “any terrorist actions by Hamas” and declared their support for a two-state solution, while calling for renewed dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
While touring Palestinian towns and refugee camps, Di Maio pledged that a Five Star government would officially recognize the State of Palestine, condemned the separation wall and settlements in Judea and Samaria, and denounced Israel’s refusal to grant the delegation a permit to visit Gaza.
Headed for a stunning loss in the Italian elections was the Democratic Party, the main partner in the center-left government that has ruled Italy since 2013. Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina called the projections giving the party just under 20% “a complete defeat.” The Democrats received 25% in 2013 and have occupied the premier’s office since then.