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Tunisian government to respect parliament's decision on Israeli tourists

Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said yesterday that his government will respect the Tunisian Parliament's decision to deny Israeli Jews entry to Tunisia "even if the decision will harm tourism".

Jomaa made the remarked during a national dialogue conference to encourage economic growth. Following criticism over his government's decision to allow 61 Israeli tourists to enter the country a week ago saying that his government aimed to encourage foreign tourism.

"Tunisians face two options, either to boycott Israel and Israelis, or to encourage tourism," Jomaa said.

He pointed out that the Jews' annual visit to the island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, is considered an indication of the success of the tourism season.

Meanwhile Jomaa called on those who question his government's decisions to act "responsibly" and to avoid using "wide slogans".

The prime minister remarked on the campaign objecting to allow Israelis to visit Tunisia saying that his government "has not invented anything new and that every summer season, Tunisia receives Israeli tourists. The government follows transparent measures and avoids twists and turns."

Jomaa pointed out that he would not accept his government entering into such debates and refused to frame the visit as prelude to "normalise relations with Israel".

The Tunisian government allows Tunisian Jews to visit the Djerba synagogue as an annual Jewish ritual.

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