Italian Foreign Minister Tries to Mediate over Gaza
Italy's foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days as part of European efforts to stem an escalating conflict in Gaza that has killed 166 people.
Italy currently holds the presidency of the European Union and Mogherini is seen as a possible candidate to replace Catherine Ashton as the next European Union foreign policy chief.
The ministry said she would be in Israel and the “Palestinian Territories” until Thursday and then in Egypt, which usually a mediator in the conflict, on Friday and Saturday.
"There needs to be an immediate ceasefire," Mogherini was quoted as saying in a ministry statement on Sunday.
"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has already devastated too many generations.... The time has come for the international community to find the unity and courage to end one of the longest wars of modern history," she said.
The ministry said Mogherini had discussed the escalating crisis in Gaza on Sunday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is travelling to the region on Monday.
It added that she would also be speaking to British Foreign Secretary William Hague later on Sunday.
A German foreign ministry spokeswoman said only that Steinmeier would be in the Middle East on Monday and Tuesday, with Israeli media reporting that he would hold talks in Israel, the “West Bank” and Jordan.
Steinmeier was expected to discuss an international push for a ceasefire in Gaza with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his British and French counterparts in Vienna Sunday.
The 41-year-old Mogherini, who has been in office since February in Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's center-left cabinet, is one of the names mentioned as the next EU foreign policy head.
The nomination is to be agreed at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday.