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Tunisia: Saied accused of paving the way for normalisation with Israel

Tunisian President Kais Saied in Djerba Island, Tunusia on November 19, 2022. [Mohamed Mdalla - Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian President Kais Saied in Djerba Island, Tunusia. [Mohamed Mdalla/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia's President Kais Saied has been accused of paving the way for normalisation with the occupation state of Israel after issuing a decree approving the Madrid Protocol for the Integrated Management of Tourist Areas in the Mediterranean. The protocol has been signed by twenty countries, including Israel.

According to former MP Salem Labeid, "Just a few days after the Djerba Declaration at the Francophone Summit, which described [Israel's] occupation, murder and violence against the Palestinian people as the most heinous in human history… the president signed decree number 917 on 29 November — the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People — approving a protocol for the Integrated Management of Tourist Areas in the Mediterranean adopted in Madrid in 2008 and published in the Official Gazette."

He added on Facebook that the "controversial agreement" was presented in its normalisation nature to the Assembly of the Representatives of the People in June 2020, when 144 deputies voted to postpone it under pressure from the popular anti-normalisation campaign, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and the Tunisian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

"Signing and publishing this protocol in the absence of a freely and transparently elected legislative council that expresses the popular will, is not a legislative priority or an expression of urgent necessity," explained Labeid. "It is an example of the denial of the national culture that opposes normalisation [with Israel] and advocates for the just [Palestinian] cause that martyrs have died for and the Tunisians have defended for decades with their blood, money and various political and symbolic means."

The latest of these, he pointed out, was the raising of the flag of Palestine by a young football supporter during the World Cup match between Tunisia and France last week. "Unfortunately, the only way we can interpret and understand the approval of this agreement [by Saied] at this time is as a step towards normalisation at a time when the insistence that 'normalisation is high treason' is being denied."

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