Israel ties ‘not on agenda’ for Tunisia, its PM says

Tunisia has no plans to match Morocco’s decision to recognize Israel, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi says, insisting that establishing relations with the Jewish state is “not on the agenda.”

Last week, Morocco became the fourth country in the Arab League to recognize Israel since August, in a flurry of diplomatic deals brokered by outgoing US President Donald Trump.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan have also recently normalized ties with Israel as part of a push that weakens the Arab world’s previously united front over the Palestinians’ struggle for statehood.

“We respect Morocco’s choice, Morocco is a sister country that we love very much,” Mechichi tells the France 24 broadcaster in an interview. But, he says, “for Tunisia, the question is not on the agenda.”

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi speaks to the press after a meeting with his French counterpart at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on December 14, 2020. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Mechichi says he has not been approached by the Trump administration about the issue.

“Every country has its own reality, its own truth and its own diplomacy, which it considers best for its people,” he says.

Neighboring Algeria has taken a less charitable view of the deal struck with arch-rival Morocco, under which Washington recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region in exchange for Rabat normalizing ties with Israel.

Algeria, which backs the Polisario independence movement in Western Sahara, has said the move is part of “foreign maneuvers which aim to destabilize Algeria.”