Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with Italian officials in Rome on Wednesday, as part of an official visit to Italy, Rome, and the Vatican.

The officials discussed the latest round of sanctions on Iran, the security situation in the Middle East, and bilateral relations.

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The recent IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla also came up in the meetings, and Italian officials expressed their support for the Israeli investigation into the operation, according to a statement from Ayalon's office. The deputy foreign minister then thanked the Italians for supporting Israel's right to self-defense.

Regarding Israel's blockade on the Strip, in place since July 2006, Ayalon said, "Unfortunately, Hamas has established a blockade on the Palestinian people in Gaza. The future of the blockade depends solely on Hamas. The moment that they adhere to the three principles that the international community established, the blockade will end."

Moving on to speak about Iran, Ayalon urged Italy, and with it the European Parliament, to place further sanctions on Iran.

"Iran will continue to do everything possible to prevent progress towards peace in the region," he said. "We should take advantage of the latest United Nations Security Council resolution and provide a secondary layer of sanctions through the European Parliament and national parliaments, like Italy."

"We would also like to see more countries follow the lead of the Dutch Parliament and the US Congress by designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity," the deputy foreign minister told Italian officials.

Italian Parliament President Gianfranco Fini and opposition leader Enrico Letta were among those in attendance.

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