Border officials in Tunisia have refused entry to twenty Israeli passengers of a Norwegian cruise ship, the Jade, which docked in La Goulette on Sunday. A spokesman for the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line said that “a small number” of Israeli passport holders were refused permission to go ashore due to a “last minute” decision by the Tunisian government.
According to an official in the Tunisian tourism ministry, the visitors were prevented from disembarking because of “a procedural problem” and that they did not have visas. Interior Minister Mohamed Al-Arawi told AFP that the Israeli passengers did not enter Tunisia because the necessary procedures had not been completed.
The relationship between Israel and most Arab states is sensitive. The “normalisation” of ties with the Zionist state is not accepted by most Arab governments.
Tunisia hosted the Palestine Liberation Organisation from its 1982 expulsion from Lebanon until it moved to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early nineties during the Oslo peace process. In 1996, Tunisia and Israel each opened interest sections in the other country, but Tunis froze relations in 2000 in protest at the Israeli response to the second Palestinian intifada. The uprising began after the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon entered Al-Aqsa Mosque with a couple of thousand security officers.