The Tunisian representative to the Palestinian Authority has abruptly canceled his attendance at an international Holocaust conference this week in Jerusalem, organizers said Monday. The three-day event, which began Monday evening at Jerusalem's Yad Ben Zvi Institute, focuses on the fate of the Jews of North Africa during World War II. Tunisia's representative to the PA, Ahmed el-Habassi, had been scheduled to deliver remarks at the conference's opening session. His decision to skip the event followed a report about his attendance in The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, a spokesman for the Yad Ben Zvi Institute said Monday. Habassi's planned attendance at the event evidently rankled other Arab countries and embarrassed him, Israeli officials said. Habassi did not return calls for comment on Monday. Israel and Tunisia do not have diplomatic relations. Twenty-one researchers from Israel, Europe, and the United States will participate in the conference, which is being carried out in conjunction with Yad Vashem. In addition, France's ambassador to Israel, Jean-Michel Casa, is due to deliver greetings at the opening of the event, while the ambassadors of Italy, Germany, and Spain are all slated to attend. A Yad Vashem spokeswoman expressed regret Monday over Habassi's cancellation, but declined further comment. Tunisia was the only North African country to come under direct German rule. Nearby Morocco and Algeria were governed by the pro-German collaborators of Vichy France. In November 1942, German and Italian troops invaded Tunisia following the invasion of Algeria and Morocco by the Allies. The Jews were saved from annihilation at the hands of the Germans on May 7, 1943, when the Allies entered the capital, Tunis, and quickly vanquished the Germans. Last year, a Tunisian became the first Arab nominated for recognition by Yad Vashem as a "righteous gentile" for saving Jews during the Holocaust.