Tunisia and Israel Move Closer Toward Low-level Diplomatic Ties

Tunisia and Israel have agreed to open economic interest sections in Tunis and Tel Aviv soon, according to news reports here.

In October, the two countries announced that they would exchange interest sections in March, but the move was delayed because of disagreements over a Tunisian plan to dispatch a representative to the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip, Morocco’s Maghreb Press Agency reported here.

Israel agreed to grant the future Tunisian representative in Gaza a “quasi- diplomatic status” and “freedom of movement” between Israel and the Palestinian self-rule zones, the Moroccan news agency reported this week. But under the agreement, the representative would not have the benefits of full diplomatic immunity.

Interest sections are seen as a first step towards the establishment of full diplomatic relations. Because the two countries have not yet agreed to establish embassies in Tel Aviv and Tunis.

According to the news agency, Tunisia named Khmeiss Ghinaoui, now a Tunisian economic counselor based in Asia, as its bureau chief in Tel Aviv.

Israel will reportedly send Shalom Cohen to Tunis. Cohen, who is of Tunisian origin, is now a political counselor at the Israeli Embassy in Brussels.

The Palestine Liberation Organization maintained its headquarters in Tunisia from 1982 until last July, when PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat moved his headquarters to Gaza.

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