In an i24 TV interview with Tunisia’s Minister of Tourism René Trabelsi, which was aired in Tunisia on Tuesday, the minister, who is Jewish, said diplomatic normalization with Israel is a “sensitive matter.”
Trabelsi is the son of one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Tunisia, and owns the Paris-based Royal Piers, specializing in holiday packages to North African countries. Last November, he was appointed by Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef a-Shahed as Minister of Tourism.
“The Palestinian cause is close to our hearts […] and we have served it well,” Trabelsi explained. He also noted that “Tunisia has been historically committed to peace in the Middle East.”
Trabelsi was born on Djerba Island, off the coast of Tunisia, near Libya. The island has been home to a thriving Jewish community for more than 2,500 years, with El Ghriba Synagogue being its prized possession – with thousands of Jewish pilgrims visiting there each year.
Needless to say, Trabelsi was attacked on Tunisian social media for the very fact of giving an interview to Israeli TV, which, come to think of it, constitutes a kind of normalization.
Since WW2, Tunisia has seen a significant decrease of its Jewish population, which has immigrated to Israel, France, and Canada.
Trabelsi was critical of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, describing it as “a violation of Jerusalem’s legal and historical status and of relevant UN resolutions.”