Gaza border crossing, Europe and Italy
Palestinians formally opened a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Friday that will allow Gazans to travel abroad freely for the first time since Israel occupied the coastal territory in 1967.
The Rafah deployment marks the EU's first monitoring role in the Palestinian territories.
The border crossing deal was seen as a sign of improved Israel-EU relations. But an Israeli official indicated that ties might cool if the European Union went ahead and endorsed a draft report critical of Israeli policy in Arab East Jerusalem.
This is a chance for Palestinians to show their good faith and clean up their act: they should have learned by now that terrorism is a cul-de-sac. It is also an excellent opportunity for Europe to reassert some kind of relevance in the middle east without recurring to its decades old anti-Semitism.
A sign that the wind is changing comes from an improbable source: the Italian left - long accused by its critics of at best, lacking objectivity by espousing the Palestinian cause against Israel, or, at worst, being blatantly anti-Semitic - is in the throes of revaluating its stance on the Jewish state.
On Thursday, Fassino participated in a debate "the Left and Israel" held at Adnkronos International's (AKI) headquarters, the Palazzo dell' Informazione, in Rome. The debate was chaired by Antonio Polito, editor of the centre-left daily Il Riformista.
Fassino suggested that in the past the left, not just in Italy, but also elsewhere in Europe, may have been guilty of "cultural relativism" when approaching the conflict in the Middle East - an attitude that led to the condemnation of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, but tolerance of some of the autocractic practices of its Arab neighbours.
"The lack of democracy in an Islamic nation, was 'justified' on the basis that that nation was Islamic," Fassino said, adding that the "It is time that certain universal rights are accepted as being absolute."
Believe me when I say that this is a long overdue whiff of fresh air after the fetid fumes left parties have breathed into Italian foreign policy.