Israel has fallen into Hamas trap in Gaza war, says Giorgia Meloni at G7

<span>Giorgia Meloni, speaking after the G7 summit, dismissed a row over a reference to abortion in the final communique.</span><span>Photograph: Francesco Fotia/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Giorgia Meloni, speaking after the G7 summit, dismissed a row over a reference to abortion in the final communique.Photograph: Francesco Fotia/Rex/Shutterstock

Israel is falling into a trap laid by Hamas in its war in Gaza, Giorgia Meloni said at a press conference closing the G7 summit in Bari that affirmed her role as a leading figure in Europe. The Italian prime minister also stated that the EU will not directly contribute to a $50bn loan to Ukraine agreed by the G7 leaders.

And she underlined her status by declaring that she will start talks on Monday about the allocation of top jobs in the EU on the basis that Europe has to accept the verdict of the people reflected in the results of last week’s European parliament elections.

Meloni was one of the few European incumbents to do well in the elections. She said: “If we want to draw from the vote the indication that everything was fine it is a distorted reading. The citizens want pragmatism., a less ideological approach.”

Meloni is seen as vital to the reappointment of Ursula von der Leyen, whose European People’s Party came first, as Commission president, but insisted that Italy will also be seeking senior Commission posts.

She dismissed a row about the absence of the word abortion, which she fought to excise despite French and American protests, from the final G7 communique. Last year’s communique, issued under the Japanese presidency, explicitly referred to the right to abortion.

She said she “understood why some sought to light such fires”, a reference to the French president Emmanuel Macron publicly raising his rift with Meloni, but she insisted “the issue was constructed in a totally artificial manner, the controversy did not exist in our discussions because there was no reason to argue”.

The communique referred to “universal access to adequate, affordable, and quality health services for women, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all”.

She also insisted she had not sought to alter the commitment to the rights of LGBTQ+ people, saying: “We are not taking any steps backwards, and therefore the expectations of some have been disappointed, because the story did not correspond to the truth”.

Meloni, a self-described “Christian mother” has in the past condemned “LGBT lobbies”, but she said no rights had changed since she came to power in 2022.

In some respects her remarks about Israel falling into a trap set by Hamas were the most surprising. Although she stressed it was necessary to remember the attacks on women and children on 7 October, “it seems that Israel has fallen into a trap, a Hamas trap that had the aim of isolating it, and it seems to be working. We are working on its security,” she added.

But she is understood to believe that Israel should be willing to accept the peace plan set out by President Biden that seeks to create a permanent ceasefire on the basis of a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

She also gave fresh details about the $50bn (£39bn) loan to Ukraine to be funded out of the interest accrued from the $230bn frozen Russian state assets, saying the cash will be provided by the US, Canada, UK and probably Japan. “Currently, European nations are not involved”, she said.

US officials explained that some countries, notably the US and Canada, are going to contribute to the loan; others will help with the repayment. Yet more states, including the UK, will provide guarantees of repayment if the income flow isn’t sufficient to service and repay the loan in full.

Meloni said she saw little prospect of the assets being repaid to Russia for many years. She said: “Since the assets were frozen due to the sanctions and the sanctions are linked to the aggression towards Ukraine, the hypothesis of an unfreezing only occurs in the case of a peace process – but I assume that in this process of peace, the issue of who should pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine would also be negotiated.”

She described Vladimir Putin’s peace offer delivered on Friday as a propaganda initiative rather than a real peace proposal.