Tunisia readies VIP welcome for Shalom

Foreign Minister to visit his family home in the town of Gabbes.

November 14, 2005 23:31
3 minute read.
Tunisia readies VIP welcome for Shalom

shalom 88. (photo credit: )


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


When an Israir charter flight takes off Tuesday morning for Tunis it will be historic not only because it is the maiden trip of an Israeli airline to the North African Arab country. More significantly, it will be carrying a man who left Tunisia, his place of birth, at the age of one and is now returning for the first time as his adopted country’s foreign minister. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's trip to Tunisia to attend the UN World Summit on the Information Society will be a success from the moment that he lands. “The story is simply the fact that we’re going there,” said Ofer Bavli, Shalom’s political advisor. “Just our arrival is news.” Israel has no official diplomatic relations with Tunisia, however Tunisia will be receiving the minister, his family members and a large official delegation with all the pomp and circumstance accorded to countries with which it has peaceful relations. Tunisian President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali invited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in February to visit Tunisia in order to take part in the meeting. Since Shalom will be attending instead of Sharon, Tunisia is according Shalom the status of a head of state, said Ilan Ostfeld, Shalom’s spokesman. Hosting a UN conference means that Tunisia had no choice but to invite all UN member countries. However, the Tunisians are being particularly forthcoming. During his three-day visit Shalom will be having dinner with Tunisia’s president and meeting the foreign, commerce, and tourism ministers as well as with other high-ranking officials. “Tunisia didn’t have to do that,” said Bavli. “They didn’t have to go the extra mile and meet us. There is a message signaling normal relations.” This is what Shalom hopes to promote with other Arab countries which do not have relations with Israel. Shalom has made it his personal and professional goal to promote and develop diplomatic relations with Arab and Muslim countries which today consider Israel at worst an enemy and at best a country with which one can do business but only under the table. Following the Oslo peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, Tunisia raised its diplomatic dialogue with Israel and opened an office in Tel Aviv in 1996. But like other Arab countries which began relations with Israel after Oslo, it broke them off in 2000 during the second intifada. Israelis who immigrated from Tunisia continue to travel to visit their roots and spend Jewish holidays with the small Jewish community which still exists in Djerba and Gabbes. Shalom will visit Gabbes, his hometown, and Djerba, with his mother, brother, uncle, and wife who are accompanying him on this trip. In Gabbes he will visit his first home, now occupied by a Muslim family. The house was reportedly renovated and painted by the Tunisian government in expectation of the high-ranking official’s visit. Shalom does not expect diplomatic breakthroughs with other Arab countries this trip, said his advisors. But he does hope to promote them. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have showed more openness recently towards Israel.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Palestinian militants of the Islamist movement Hamas' military wing Al-Qassam Brigades
March 21, 2019
Hamas targets more than 70 journalists in anti-protest measures