A former deputy prime minister of Italy pledged in an interview published Tuesday to stand by his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should his coalition emerge victorious in upcoming elections.
Matteo Salvini’s party “Lega” is part of a right-wing coalition that garnered nearly 50 percent support in recent polling, and which is expected to win a majority of seats in Italy’s parliamentary elections on September 25.
When asked by the newspaper Israel Hayom if he would honor his “promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move Italy’s embassy to Jerusalem,” Salvini — who is expected to have a senior government role should the right-wing coalition come to power — affirmed, “absolutely yes.”
“I gave my word, I am fully committed with the people of Israel and I intend to keep my word,” he added. In 2018, while serving as interior minister and deputy prime minister, Salvini likewise said he supports recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He was also probed as to whether his party “recognizes Israel’s right to use all means, including military ones, to prevent Iran from having a nuclear arsenal,” responding that “a democracy like Israel has every right to defend itself against any threat to its existence and its freedom.”
“The nuclear in the hands of ayatollahs would be dangerous for the entire world and must be stopped at all costs, even if I strongly wish there could be a diplomatic solution,” Salvini said.
The far-right “Lega” party chief also pointed to an event he hosted at the Italian Senate in early 2020 on antisemitism, “in order to reveal what is a true scandal of our times.”
The event was held months after Italy’s right-wing parties abstained from a Senate vote to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate hate, racism, and antisemitism, which was proposed by an Italian Holocaust survivor who said she faces a deluge of online abuse daily, over censorship concerns. Their abstention drew concern from Rome’s Jewish community and the Vatican.
“On this topic we are very alert, we do not let our guard down and nobody talks about it more than us,” Salvini said in the interview.
“Against those that still feel a strong and groveling antisemitism we should rediscover the important contribution that Judaism has given to Italian history and, more generally, European history,” he added.