Italy will not recognize a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said. At a celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut in Rome he praised the Jewish state as the only democracy in the Middle East. He was the guest of honor at an Israeli reception hosted by Ambassador Gideon Meir. "No, absolutely not," he was quoted as telling reporters when asked whether Italy would recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.
"I think that there is no other course other than an agreement between the two states," Berlusconi added. "Our policy has always gone in this direction, and it is also the policy of the European Union," he pointed out. During a speech, the Italian leader said Israel was "the only real democracy in the Middle East and Italy is concerned there are difficult situations for Jews. There can be no solution for your people and your state but peace with your neighbor Palestine." Berlusconi also reiterated Italy's support for Israel.