Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask his Italian counterpart to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital during his three-day visit to Rome this weekend.
In an interview with Italy’s la Repubblica published on Thursday ahead of his departure, Netanyahu said, “I believe the time has come for Rome to recognize Jerusalem as the ancestral capital of the Jewish people for three thousand years, as the United States did with a gesture of great friendship.”
The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and moved its embassy to the holy city the following May.
Netanyahu also expressed a desire to expand economic relations with Italy, implying that he has set his sights on the country as a potential destination for energy exports.
“And then there is natural gas: We have a lot of it and I would like to discuss how to get it to Italy to support your economic growth,” added the premier.
Italy committed to replacing energy imports from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last month, British-Greek hydrocarbon exploration and production company Energean announced that Israel had shipped its first crude oil abroad.
“We are happy and proud that Energean has facilitated Israel joining the club of international oil exporters,” said Energean CEO Mathios Rigas.
Energean began extracting hydrocarbons from the Karish gas field off the northern Israeli coast on Oct. 26, 2022, a day before Israeli and Lebanese leaders signed a United States-mediated maritime border agreement.
Before taking off, Netanyahu was slated to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin at Ben-Gurion Airport.
In Rome, the premier will meet with his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni.