Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid Photo: GPO

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday congratulated Italy’s new Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, a day after she officially formed Italy’s ruling coalition.

“I look forward to working together to strengthen the ties between Jerusalem and Rome as well as in the international arena, including in international organizations and in everything related to the fight against antisemitism, in Europe and in the Middle East,” said Lapid.

“I also congratulate Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, a staunch and longtime friend of the State of Israel, on his taking office,” he added.

Meloni heads the right-wing Brothers of Italy Party, which was the top vote-getter in Italy's national election last month.

The Brothers of Italy party is considered a far-right party and has drawn accusations of fascism and semi-fascism, though it suspended a candidate who had praised Hitler prior to the election.

Meloni herself has made several controversial statements, accusing Israel of carrying out "another massacre of children in Gaza” during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, but has attempted to position herself as a more pro-Israel candidate in the recent elections.

She recently told the Israel Hayom newspaper that “Israel represents the only fully-fledged democracy in the broader Middle East, and we defend without any reservations its right to exist and live in security. I believe that the existence of the State of Israel is vital, and Fratelli d’Italia will make every effort to invest in greater cooperation between our countries.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a general statement a week after the Italian election, in which it did not mention Meloni specifically but rather wrote that "Israel congratulates the people of Italy on the end of the election campaign and looks forward to continued cooperation and friendship with the government that will be established and the Italian people.”

The statement added that "Italy is an important friend of Israel."