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Berlusconi: no Palestine recognition

    Italy will only recognise a Palestinian unity government that has renounced terrorism and accepted Israel's right to exist, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said last week in a ceremony to mark Israel's Independence Day.

    During the official event in Villa Miani in Rome, Mr Berlusconi rejected "any unilateral recognition of Palestine", and confirmed that Italy would fight such moves in the European Union.

    Speaking ahead a four-day visit to Israel by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Mr Berlusconi confirmed Italy's commitment to pushing for a peace process. "Israel is the only democracy in Middle East," he said, "and the only possible way forward is an agreement between the two states."

    Mr Berlusconi stressed his conviction that "negotiation will be impossible if all the Palestinian factions will not clearly recognise Israel's right to exist and ensure security to the Jewish state".

    Meanwhile, Andrew Standley, the European Union's ambassador to Israel, said a decision had not been made over whether the EU would recognise the unity government. "The EU will be studying the details of agreement and its implementation," he said.

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