Italian media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi, a self-proclaimed backer of Israel, said after winning parliamentary elections Monday that his first foreign visit during his third term of office will be to Israel in honor of the country's 60th anniversary since its re-establishment as a Jewish state. He called Israel "the only real democracy in the Middle East."
His government has helped turn its ally, the Alleanza Nationalist party, into a pro-Israel organization, European Jewish Press reported. One of Berlusconi's proposed ministers is Franco Frattini, who during a visit to Israel last year stated that "Europeans should have understood Israel’s concerns sooner" and that "your predicament in the face of terrorism is the same as ours."
Berlusconi will be the first Italian Prime Minister to have a parliament member who speaks fluent Hebrew, Jewish journalist Fiamma Nirenstein who lives part of the year in Gilo, on the southern edge of the capital.