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Tunisian parliament withdraws motions over Israeli tourists

(JTA) — The Tunisian parliament withdrew motions of no confidence against two government ministers accused of trying to normalize relations with Israel.

The motions were withdrawn late Friday, shortly before the lawmakers were to vote on them, according to the French news agency AFP.

Eighty-five lawmakers in the 217-member parliament last month signed a petition requiring Tourism Minister Amel Karboul to appear and defend her decision to allow Israelis to enter the country with their passports for a religious festival this month. Deputy Interior Minister for Security Ridha Sfar also was summoned to appear before the legislative body.

Tunisia does not recognize Israel and has not had diplomatic relations with the Jewish state since 2000.

The Hilula of Ghriba, a feast that features a festive procession on or near Lag b’Omer, brings hundreds of Jews — many Israelis — to Tunisia every year. The procession traditionally ends at the El Ghriba synagogue, a 19th-century building that is among Africa’s oldest existing synagogues. Pilgrims from Israel until this year entered the country on special visas issued by Tunisia in advance.

In March, Norwegian Cruise Lines canceled stops at ports in Tunisia following the denial of entry to 20 Israeli passengers aboard its Jade ship.

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