Hundreds of Tunisians rally in support of Palestinians

Hundreds of Tunisians rallied in support of the Palestinians on Wednesday, calling for their own government to outlaw relations between Tunisians and Israelis.

The protests, organised by the influential General Tunisian Worker’s Union, or UGTT, drew almost 1,000 people to downtown Tunis.

Tunisia has long resisted normalising relations with Israel.

“As Tunisia respects the sovereign positions of other countries, it affirms that its stance is principled and changes in the international scene will never affect it,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Despite its stance against normalising relations with Israel, Tunisia has usually stopped short of any further action.

Attempts in 2014 to include a clause in the new constitution criminalising business or political relationships with Israel or Israelis failed.

Another push in 2020 for a similar law stalled in a deadlocked Parliament.

That draft legislation would have outlawed any business, cultural, scientific or educational exchanges, direct or indirect, between Tunisians and Israelis or the Israeli government.

Offenders would have been subject to fines and prison.

Many Tunisian businesses export goods, often indirectly through France, to Israel.

The Observatory of Economic Complexity estimates that Tunisian businesses exported almost $19 million in goods to Israel in 2019.

Farhat Zaghbani, 29, was among those attending the rally.

“We must put pressure on this Parliament, which has previously failed to pass this law,” Ms Zaghbani said.

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