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Tunisian opposition 'committed' to law criminalising normalisation with Israel

People carry a massive Palestinian flag during a demonstration marking the 'Palestinian Land Day' at the Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, Tunisia on March 31, 2018. Land Day” is an annual Palestinian commemoration for the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1976 [Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency]
People carry a massive Palestinian flag during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia on 31 March 2018 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

A leading opposition MP in Tunisia has said that democratic forces in the country remain committed to passing a law which criminalises "normalisation" with Israel, Quds Press has reported. "The Palestinian cause," added Al-Irada Party leader Imed Al-Daimi, "remains a priority for the political elites and leaders in Tunisia."

Al-Daimi expressed his regret at the way the Tunisian public and officials reacted to Israel's violations against the Palestinians, calling the response "weak and substandard". He attributed this to Tunisians' preoccupation with post-revolution local entitlements, in addition to the Tunisian communities' reduced confidence in political participation and its replacement by social media.

"We are witnessing a serious social phenomenon here in Tunisia, which is the reluctance to participate in political and public affairs. This was evident in the weak turnout for the recent municipal elections."

The MP asserted that the lack of public protest against Israeli crimes does not mean that the Palestinian cause is not of central importance. "The Tunisian people and all political elites with their different ideologies still view the Palestinian cause as their own main cause."

However, Al-Daimi undermined his argument about the importance of talking about normalisation by stressing that "this strange and deplorable phenomenon does exist, but is isolated."

Nevertheless, he insisted that the democratic forces never give up on the demand to pass the law criminalising normalisation with the occupation state. "Although we tried as a democratic opposition to pass this law, the powers of the coalition government evaded discussion of the bill, fearing external pressures and the effects on the economy as a result of such a law."

Even so, he said, the law must be passed in order to assert national sovereignty and prevent external interference. "We still adhere to the rejection of normalisation and consider what is taking place [in terms of existing links with Israel] as isolated practices that can be deterred by the existing system of laws."

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