As the world responded to the passing of the 86-year-old Italian politician, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Silvio Berlusconi was “a great friend of Israel.”
“I was incredibly grieved by the loss of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
His family and the Italian people have my sincere sympathies, added Netanyahu.
“Silvio was a devoted ally of Israel and never left our side. My buddy, rest in peace, the prime minister emphasized.
The media mogul presided over the center-right Forza Italia party until his death in Milan, where he was born on September 29, 1936, and served as the European nation’s prime minister three times in four cabinets between 1994 and 2011.
Prior to entering politics, Berlusconi built a television empire in the 1980s and acquired the soccer team AC Milan in 1986.
In 2017, he offered the club to a Chinese group.
Over the years, when they both served as leaders of their own countries, Berlusconi was well known for his ardent support of Israel and his close friendship with Netanyahu.
In 2010, the Italian was cited as stating, “My greatest desire, as long as I am a political protagonist, is to bring Israel into the political mainstream.”
Italy and Israel signed a $1 billion defense agreement for Italy’s M-346 jet trainer and the cooperative creation of a surveillance satellite when he was in government in 2012.
After leaving government, Berlusconi continued to support Israel, saying in 2014 that as Israel was the only democracy in the Middle East, the West should back Israel rather than the Palestinians.