Tunisia’s parliament mulls law to criminalise normalisation with Israel

AFP , Thursday 2 Nov 2023

Tunisia's parliament on Thursday began debating a bill that would criminalise any normalisation of ties with Israel as the occupying state's brutal war on Gaza enters day 27.

Tunisia parliament
Tunisian members of parliament hold the Palestinian flag as they observe a minute of silence for civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip, at the opening of the plenary devoted to the criminalisation of normalisation with Israel on November 2, 2023 in Tunis, amid Israel s brutal war on Gaza. AFP

 

The draft bill defines "normalisation" as "recognition of the Zionist entity or the establishment of direct or indirect ties" with it, a crime which would be classed as "high treason".

Anyone found guilty of "the crime of normalisation" would face a penalty of between six to 10 years of prison and a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 Tunisian dinars (3,000 to 30,000 euros), the text says. Any repeat offenders would be jailed for life.

"There is total agreement between the president, the parliament and public opinion" on this matter, parliamentary speaker Brahim Bouderbala told lawmakers at the start of the session.

"We strongly believe Palestine must be liberated from the river to the sea.. and that a Palestinian state must be established with Holy Jerusalem as its capital," he said.

The legislation, which was drawn up and approved by lawmakers in late October, would also proscribe any interaction between Tunisians and Israelis, including "events, demonstrations, meetings, exhibitions and competitions" in any context, be it "political, economic, scientific, cultural, artistic or sporting" in territory held or occupied by Israel.

Over the past month, thousands of Tunisians have hit the streets in support of Palestinians in Gaza where Israel has carried out relentless bombardments since a Hamas offensive on 7 October.

Up till now, more than 9,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed in near-constant Israeli air strikes on the besieged territory, according to Palestinian health ministry figures.

Tunisia's current parliament, which was elected at the end of 2022, counts 160 deputies.

The country has a Jewish community numbering about a thousand people, most of whom live on the southern island of Djerba.

Thousands attend an annual pilgrimage to the El Ghriba synagogue on the island every May.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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