Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Italy this week, for a two-day trip that included meetings with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Pope Francis at the Vatican. Netanyahu traveled to Europe with several cabinet ministers as part of the annual “Government to Government” conference.
On Sunday, Netanyahu and his wife Sarah attended a candle lighting ceremony marking the fifth night of Hanukkah at The Great Synagogue of Rome. Bibi took the occasion to address his willingness to face the threats to Israel: “In contrast to others, when I see that interests vital to the security of Israel’s citizens are in danger, I will not be silent.”
He continued, “I am committed to the future of my state and in contrast to periods in the past, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will sound it in time in order to warn of the danger.”
Netanyahu alleged that Iran aspires to an atomic bomb, and explained that such a development threatens the entirety of Europe and the Middle East. “The most dangerous regime in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapon in the world,” he said, concluding: “I tell you and promise in the spirit of the Maccabees, we will not allow Iran to receive a military nuclear capability.”
On Monday morning, Netanyahu met with Pope Francis, gifting the pontiff a copy of his late father, Benzion Netanyahu’s book about the Spanish Inquisition. “To his Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage,” the Israeli leader wrote on the inside cover of “The Origins of the Inquisition.” The Israeli premiere also gave the pope a Hanukkah menorah.
The Vatican Press Office said the 25-minute closed-door meeting, Netanyahu’s first with the new pope, discussed “complex political and social situation in the Middle East, with Particular reference to the reinstatement of Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, expressing Hope that a just and lasting solution Respecting the rights of Both Parties may be reached as soon as possible.”