Fragile Gaza truce as Italy FM visits Israel

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini will on Tuesday visit an Israeli town hit by rocket strikes from Gaza and meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas as part of a diplomatic push for peace, her ministry said.

Fragile Gaza truce as Italy FM visits Israel
The majority of people killed in the Gaza offensive have been civilians. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP

Mogherini "will be in Ramallah this afternoon to meet president Mahmud Abbas and foreign minister Riyad al-Malki", the ministry said in a statement.

It also said Mogherini would travel to Ashdod, a southern port town close to the border with the Gaza Strip, along with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and visit a home hit by a rocket attack.

A Gaza rocket struck the town earlier on Tuesday, just hours after Israel agreed to abide by an Egyptian truce that was rejected by Hamas.

Israel's Operation Protective Edge, intended to stamp out militant rocket fire, had killed 186 people in Gaza by late Monday – exceeding the toll in the last similar flare-up of violence in 2012. A UN reported issued on Sunday said that 77 percent of those killed were civilians.

SEE ALSO: Kerry seeks Gaza truce from Netanyahu

Mogherini is expected to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, as well as visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

A 41-year-old who has only been in government since February, Mogherini is seen as a possible pick for a European Commission post or to be the EU's next foreign policy chief.

SEE ALSO: France ups security after synagogues stormed

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Italy PM brands UNESCO Jerusalem vote ‘unacceptable’

Italy's Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, on Friday described a UNESCO resolution condemning Israel's actions in east Jerusalem as "incomprehensible and unacceptable" and said his officials should have voted against it.

Italy PM brands UNESCO Jerusalem vote 'unacceptable'
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

Italy joined most of its European partners in abstaining on a vote which criticizes the Jewish state for restricting access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a way that Israel says denies Judaism's connection to the city.

“It is incomprehensible and unacceptable, it was a mistake,” Renzi told Italian radio.

The premier said he had issued instructions to Italian diplomats to take a different stance if the same issue arises again in international bodies.

“Suggesting that Jerusalem and Judaism have no connection is like suggesting the sun causes darkness,” he said. “If we have to break with European unity on the subject, so be it.”

The executive board of UNESCO, the UN's cultural, scientific and educational arm, backed the controversial resolution on “occupied Palestine” on Tuesday.

Referring throughout to “the occupying power,” it condemns Israel for restricting Muslims' access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound – Islam's third holiest site – and criticizes damage by security forces to the site and nearby excavations.

Israel is furious that the resolution refers to the Jerusalem Old City site only by its Muslim name, Al-Aqsa or Al-Haram al-Sharif.

It is considered holy by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount and it is considered the holiest site in Judaism.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.