Netanyahu to Business Leaders: ‘Great Potential for Economic Cooperation with Italy’

Netanyahu with Italian business leaders on March 10. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO).

Israel has already doubled their exports to Italy in the last two years—to $1.5 billion at the end of 2022—and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes this economic relationship has more room to grow. That was Netanyahu’s message last Friday to a forum of Italian business leaders, a group that together produces approximately 300 billion Euros in revenue.

In his comments with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni later that same day, Netanyahu said of Israel-Italy relations: “I think there’s room here for enormous, enormous collaboration and improvement,” and after meeting with the business leaders said he is “even more convinced that we can do great things.”

Netanyahu—whose comments were posted in a video to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Twitter page—specifically mentioned natural gas business. Said Netanyahu, “Italy wants to be a hub for the supply of energy for Europe… We think exactly that, and we have gas reserves that we’re now exporting and we’d like to expedite more gas exports to Europe through Italy.”

Italian gas company ENI—the world’s 12th largest gas petroleum company in the world—was part of the business forum, according to an Israeli press release on the event. Israel and ENI have already signed an agreement last year, but Netanyahu said in Friday’s press conference with Meloni that they think they can get gas cooperation with Italy “to a much higher level.”

To that end, Italian electric company Enel and gas infrastructure form Italgas were also in Friday’s business forum. The Israeli press release noted the energy companies are “interested in infrastructure tenders in Israel as well as the alternative energy and digitization technologies existing in Israel.”

Netanyahu, according to the press release summary of his comments to the business forum, said that with the push towards a more technological world the “future will belong to those who innovate.” And Israel can help with that.

As an example, Netanyahu pointed to Japan-Israel bilateral trade that has grown billions of dollars. The Israeli press release said that in Netanyahu’s view, “there is great potential for commercial and economic cooperation with Italy as well, which constitutes a major opportunity.”

Italy is working to invest 200 billion euros in infrastructure, sustainability and other economic endeavors, with the Israeli press release noting that “Israeli companies have a unique opportunity to be a source of technology and innovation in this process.” Parallel to that, the press release noted that Italian companies “are interested the tenders that are anticipated in Israel in energy, security equipment and infrastructure.”

One way Israel can work with Italy is in water solutions. The European nation has faced a drought in recent years, whereas Israel has become a global leader in desalination and agriculture in a dry environment.

In his comments to Meloni posted to Twitter, Netanyahu said, “Israel has solved its water problems in an area that is supposed to be insoluble and we’d readily cooperate with your government to help solve Italy’s water problem. It can be done a lot quicker than people think.”

Netanyahu told the business leaders he planned to propose a government to government meeting with Italy, along with a sizeable meeting of the two nations’ business people. The press release said Netanyahu “added that such a meeting has major potential for cooperation and is an opportunity for the economic growth of both countries.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 14, 2023)

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