Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared that Israel should become a member of the European Union.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Berlusconi said: “My greatest desire, as long as I am a protagonist in politics, is to bring Israel into membership of the European Union."
He added: “We would like a committed friendship to grow from this meeting, to work together toward the future.
"I hope we can all look towards a future of profit and prosperity, particularly peace for you, whose fragile existence is threatened."
He added that he often felt sorry for Israel, claiming “I can't help but feel the unfairness towards you."
Israel currently has no plans to join the EU but trade agreements exist between the two. Two other Eastern countries, Morocco and Turkey, have attempted to join the EU but have so far been unsuccessful.
Mr Netanyahu said at the meeting: “We need Berlusconi. Israel has no greater friend than him in the international community."
"Rome and Jerusalem are the two great civilisations on which the West as we know it was founded.”
Mr Berlusconi is in Israel for a three-day visit. During his time in Jerusalem he will visit Mount Herzl to plant a tree for Tu B’shvat, and go to Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem to lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
He is expected to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He will give a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday.