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from Global News Journal:

Berlusconi charms Israel with EU talk

Berlusconi and Netanyahu shake hands during a meeting in Italy last year

Berlusconi and Netanyahu shake hands during a meeting in Italy last year

Silvio Berlusconi is seldom shy about making headlines, and he's also known to turn on the charm when he meets foreign leaders.

So it was hardly surprising the Italian prime minister kicked off a three-day visit to Israel on Monday by declaring his hope that Israel might one day become a member of the European Union.

"My greatest dream, a

Netanyahu and Berlusconi shake hands during a meeting in Italy last year

Netanyahu and Berlusconi shake hands during a meeting in Italy last year

s long as I am a mover and shaker in politics, is to welcome Israel as one of the European Union's member states," the 73-year-old billionaire announced to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who went on to praise the shared Judeo-Christian roots of Rome and Jerusalem.

While Berlusconi's comments made headlines, at least in Israel and Italy, it's not the first time he's laid out such an ambition -- he said almost exactly the same thing during a visit to Croatia in January 2003, when he backed Zagreb's bid to join the EU and said he hoped Israel, Turkey, Ukraine and Moldova would follow. 

Settlement Freeze Still the Hot Topic

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PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/MITCHELLMonths on, and the buck still stops with the settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is now in Europe to meet in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today and US peace envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday. He will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.

According to our latest article , the settlement freeze controversy  will dominate discussions, though Netanyahu is also keen to coordinate with Britain and Germany on opposition to Iran’s nuclear program.   (For more information on Netanyahu’s Europe trip, check out our factbox.)

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