Tunisians protest against Israel ties

Date: 7/10/2011

TUNIS – Around 600 people rallied in Tunis Sunday threatening to out leaders believed to support normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel.

"Death to all Tunisians attempting to normalise relations with Israel," said Ahmed Kahlaoui, who chairs a committee opposing the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"We will denounce them and publish their names," he said, speaking at a meeting organised at a conference hall in the Tunisian capital and attended by hundreds of people, some of them waving anti–Israeli banners.

Earlier this month, the authority in charge of political reform following the January ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of dictatorial rule adopted a "republican pact" meant to form the basis of a new constitution.

It rules out a normalisation of ties with Israel but some members of the commission that drafted the text were reportedly in favour of leaving the issue out of the document.

"We can no longer trust this body's members, which includes academics who support normalisation with Israel and have had ties themselves" with the Jewish state, Kahlaoui said.

Songs, dances and poems were performed during the meeting and Tunisians veterans who took part in the 1948 Arab–Israeli conflict gave testimonies.

The meeting was mainly attended by pan–Arab nationalist political groups and NGOs but the Islamist Ennahda party was not represented.

After several years of warming ties, the Israeli and Tunisian authorities opened interest sections in each other's countries in 1996 but Tunis broke off all relations in 2000 after the outbreak of the second intifada.


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