Italy’s interior minister: Israel is a bulwark defending Europe, Middle East

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Italian Interior Minister and deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was set to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on Wednesday, the second day of his two-day visit to Israel.

At Yad Vashem, Salvini was to view the Flashes of Memory – Photography During the Holocaust exhibit and lay a wreath at a memorial ceremony at the museum’s Remembrance Hall.

On Tuesday, Salvini said he was “proud to be here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Israel is a bulwark defending Europe and the Middle East.

He began his trip touring Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where the IDF has uncovered cross-border attack tunnels built by Hezbollah.

In a meeting with Salvini following his tour, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, “We must recognize that a large portion of the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Europe is coming from the new Muslim communities across the continent and we must fight this phenomenon.

In their meeting, the two discussed bilateral efforts to combat terrorism and public security along with the fight against Hezbollah and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

During the meeting, Erdan said that “in order to ensure stability in Lebanon. It is vital we take aggressive measures against Hezbollah and Iran as soon as possible.”

Erdan noted that Hezbollah had expanded its weapons arsenal and dug tunnels despite the presence of U.N. peacekeeping troops stationed in the area. He asked Salvini to use his influence to ensure UNIFIL, which is headed by Italian Maj.Gen. Stefano Del Col, was a proactive force for the implement U.N. resolutions.

“We are partners in the fight against radical Islamic terror, which threatens Europe and Israel. Israel would be happy to share our knowledge and experience in the fight against terrorism and incitement with Italy,” Erdan said.

Erdan also expressed his appreciation for “everything Italy does to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust, mainly through the education system.” He said it was vital to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms.

Salvini is considered the driving force in Italy’s government and a rising star in nationalist movements sweeping Europe. His Israel visit has prompted criticism over his policies and anti-immigration views.