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Tunisian PM: Normalization with Israel ‘not on the agenda’

Hichem Mechichi says he respects Morocco’s decision to recognize the Jewish state but Tunis won’t follow suit

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. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP)
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. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP)

PARIS — Tunisia has no plans to match Morocco’s decision to recognize Israel, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said, insisting that establishing relations with the Jewish state was “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 told France 24 broadcaster in an interview late Monday.

But, he said, “for Tunisia, the question is not on the agenda.”

Tunisian demonstrators hold up placards against US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan during a protest on February 5, 2020, in Tunis. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)

Mechichi said he had 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 said.

Neighboring Algeria took 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, said the move was part of “foreign maneuvers which aim to destabilize Algeria.”

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