There can be no normalization of ties with Israel, said Rached Ghannouch, the leader of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party, Sunday. The head of the Ennahda party cited Zionism as the root of the problem.

“Tunisians’ problem is with Zionism, not with Judaism,” he said, adding that “there can be no normalization with Israel.” Speaking in Beja in northwestern Tunisia, Ghannouchi said that the only way for Palestinians to reclaim their land, “occupied by Israel,” is through the victory of democratic regimes in the Arab world.

Ennahda won a majority of seats in Tunisia’s October 2011 elections. The deposed Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was a “Zionist collaborator,” aded Ghannouchi. Ben Ali was deposed following violent protests in January 2011.

A few hundred people demonstrated against normalization with Israel in the capital Tunis on Friday.