Tunisian ministers grilled over allowing entry to Israeli tourists

The flag of Tunisia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Two Tunisian ministers were questioned by Tunisia’s Islamist-dominated parliament on Friday for allegedly allowing Israeli tourists into the country, which does not recognize Israel.

Tourism Minister Amel Karboul and Deputy Interior Minister for Security Ridha Sfar were censured in late April over these moves to “normalize” ties with Israel.

Left-wing lawmaker Faycel Jadlaoui said that allowing Israelis into Tunisia “undermines state sovereignty,” AFP reported.

“We did not have our revolution so that the first revolutionary measure taken was normalization with the Zionist entity,” he said. 

The parliamentary questioning comes ahead the annual Jewish pilgrimage to Djerba, a tiny island off Tunisia that is the site of Africa’s oldest Jewish synagogue and a small Jewish community, when many Israelis of Tunisian heritage are expected to visit.

Karboul has also been criticized by Islamists in the past for allegedly visiting Israel in 2006.  

The inquiry follows an announcement in March by the U.S.-based Norwegian Cruise Line that it would no longer stop in Tunisia, after the country refused to allow Israeli nationals the right to disembark using their Israeli passports.

Tunisia is keen on reviving its struggling tourism industry, which was down 30 percent in 2013 compared to before the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolution.

Posted on May 9, 2014 .