Middle East powder keg

Two week after the first Hamas attack on Israel, the mood is one of tragic and dramatic anticipation. A wait for the reaction of the Israeli armed forces on the ground. An attack that the Western world is trying to avert, because of the serious consequences it could bring. In these days, everything has already happened, enough to keep the whole world on the alert. The acme of madness was reached with the bombing of the Palestinian hospital, a raid of still unknown origin in which 471 people died and which triggered a spiral of hatred, culminating in the Day of Rage, called by Hezbollah. While the UN and EU call for the facts to be established, Arab protests are spreading, from North Africa to Asia, passing through the Arabian Peninsula. In Istanbul, Tehran and elsewhere, Israeli consulates and offices were targeted; in Amman, hundreds attempted to break into the Israeli embassy; and thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in several cities in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. President al-Sisi threatened: “If I ask the Egyptian people to take to the streets, it will be millions”.

US President Joe Biden was in Israel for just eight hours, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but did not see, as he planned, his Arab interlocutors, Palestinian National Authority President Abu Mazen, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza, a refuge for many families, has sparked pro-Palestinian reactions in the Arab world, although the dynamics of the tragedy are unclear.

The situation on the border between Israel and Lebanon also worsens: in the last two days there have been exchanges of gunfire along the Blue Line demarcation between the two countries. The tension is palpable, also in Europe, especially after the terrorist attack in Brussels and the violent episodes in Paris. Italy is intensifying its diplomatic contacts (Tajani has been in Tunisia, Crosetto in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Meloni has received the kings of Jordan and Bahrain). Palazzo Chigi’s strategy is to openly stand in support of Israeli demands, while not breaking the line of dialogue with the Arab world.

In the meantime, the government scored an important result this week: the approval in the Council of Ministers of the budget law, which will be officially passed by 31 December with the vote of the Houses of Parliament. This year, Italy could probably be ‘top of the class’ in Europe, approving its financial measure even ahead of schedule. A financial measure in which around 24 billion will be allocated, 15 billion of which will be in deficit, which is why the government has already identified sources of savings and higher revenues of 8 billion for 2024. In addition, over three years it aims to raise 20 billion from privatisations. The main measures concern taxation, with the cut in the wedge, with 4.1 billion earmarked for the intervention on the Irpef, which is going from 4 to 3 rates (Up to 28,000 euro of income the rate is 23%, between 28,000 euro and 50,000 euro it is 35%. Over 50,000 euro it is 43%). On the political level, however, this year’s peculiarity lies in the tightening of amendments: no special concessions to parties, that is the direction. The economic situation is not flourishing, this is not the year to fulfil election promises. For those there will be time, and government sentiment is positive: there will be plenty of time.