Yalla Roma, Solidarity Groups Tell Netanyahu ‘You Are Not Welcome’ (PHOTOS)

Italian protesters waved a banner in front of the Colosseum reading "Netanyahu: Not Welcome". (Photo: Supplied)

By Romana Rubeo  

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Rome on Thursday for a three-day visit, the Palestinian Community of Rome and Lazio organized a sit-in under the banner: ‘Netanyahu, You are Not Welcome’.

The protest was held in downtown Rome, where Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Friday to boost economic ties with Italy and offer natural gas supply. 

Netanyahu Calls on Italy to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Netanyahu said that he “would like to see more economic cooperation (between Israel and Italy)”.

In the interview, Netanyahu also called on Italy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a call that was quickly supported by far-right Italian Minister Matteo Salvini.

Several organizations joined the sit-in, including the newly-formed activist collective Yalla Roma, which aims at bringing together several pro-Palestine groups operating in the Italian capital.

The Palestine Chronicle spoke with Maya Issa, a young Palestinian-Italian activist in Rome, and one of the organizers of the protest. 

“The sit-in was organized by the Palestinian community of Rome and Lazio,” she told The Palestine Chronicle, “but many other groups joined us in our protest, including the Kurd, Cuban, and Sri Lankan communities in Rome. The struggle for self-determination is what unites us.”

“We took to the streets because Netanyahu should not be welcome as a leader and a politician, he should be judged by the International Criminal Court as a war criminal,” Maya said. 

“Following the war in Ukraine, special attention was given to international law, so our question is: Why is international law irrelevant only when it comes to Palestinians?”

Netanyahu’s visit was met with protests in both Israel and Italy by those who believe his far-right government is threatening Israeli ‘democracy’. On Sunday, Israeli media reported that the national airline El Al had struggled to find pilots to fly the prime minister and his wife to Rome. 

Moreover, on Wednesday, Italian translator Olga Dalia Padoa refused to translate for Netanyahu during his speech at the Rome synagogue, scheduled on Thursday.

“Not only do I not share Netanyahu’s political views, but his leadership is extremely dangerous in my view when it comes to democracy in Israel,” Padoa said.

Maya highlights that their protest had a completely different nature. 

“What are they talking about? Israel has never been a democracy. Even organizations like Amnesty International slammed it as an apartheid regime. It is a racist regime that constantly violates the rights of the Palestinian people. Israel is a Zionist, criminal, fascist regime, which has to be tried and condemned,” she told us.

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“We also took to the streets to express our solidarity with the Palestinian fighters who are leading the Resistance in Palestine. They are not terrorists, they are heroes and freedom fighters who are fighting a criminal, apartheid regime,” Maya said, adding that the collective Yalla was inspired by Palestinian unity in the struggle for freedom.

“Our generation does not want to be divided into political factions and groups, we need to be united in our struggle against the Israeli occupation, in Palestine and in the diaspora.”

(All Photos: Supplied)

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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