Italy to Upgrade Palestinian Delegation to Full Diplomatic Mission

In recent months, countries including Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have made similar moves to upgrade status of PA delegation.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano announced Monday that Italy was upgrading the status of the Palestinian representation in Rome, from a delegation to a full diplomatic mission, Israel Radio reported.

Speaking during a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, Napolitano said the decision was proof of Italy’s good ties with the PA.

Mahmoud Abbas and Italian president  May 16, 2011.

Abbas said there was still time to renew the negotiations with Israel for a peace deal based on the 1967 borders and the cessation of all settlement construction in the West Bank.

He expresses hope that United States President Barack Obama would also make the same decision during his expected speech next week.

In recent months Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and other countries have announced similar upgrades to PA diplomatic delegations.

U.S. President Barack Obama will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House on May 20, a U.S. statement said Monday, in a visit that may prove decisive in regards to the future of Israel's peace talks with the Palestinians.

According to the White House statement, Obama will host the premier for "a meeting at the White House," saying the "leaders look forward to discussing the full range of issues of mutual interest to the United States and Israel."

Obama and Netanyahu last met in September of 2010, ahead of the ceremony inaugurating another round of peace talks with the Palestinians. The talks broke down less than a month later.

The late May meeting was officially confirmed after Netanyahu received an invitation last month to address a joint session of Congress, as part of his official visit to the United States.

Sources close to Netanyahu say that they are certain Obama will not put forth an American peace plan. However, Israeli diplomats noted yesterday that Obama will still devote a significant amount of space to Israel, the Palestinians and human rights in the Middle East.