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Tunisia slows ties with Israel

JERUSALEM, Dec. 18 (JTA) — Tunisia’s prime minister said this week that his country was slowing normalization of ties with Israel to protest the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But Prime Minister Hamed Karoui said Tunisia had no plans to freeze its ties to the Jewish state altogether. Speaking this week in the Jordanian capital of Amman, Karoui said he was unaware of reports that Tunisia’s foreign minister, Habib Ben Yahia, had declared the ties frozen. Israel and Tunisia opened interest sections in each other’s countries earlier this year. The move, a preliminary step toward full diplomatic relations, had reflected Israel’s increased ties with the Arab world as a result of the progress made at the time in the peace process with the Palestinians.