On October 12, 2019, Watania TV (Tunisia) aired a debate between the two final contenders in the Tunisian presidential race. Candidate Kaïs Saïed said that the problem is not with the Jews and that Tunisians, including his father, protected Jews from the Nazis. He also said that anybody who normalizes relations with Israel, with which he said Tunisia is in a state of war, should be tried for treason. His opponent, Nabil Karoui, said that Tunisia should support the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority in whatever position they take regarding Israel. When pressed by the hosts whether there should be a clause in the constitution that would criminalize dealings and normalization with Israel, he answered in the affirmative.
Following are excerpts from the debate:
Kaïs Saïed: The problem is not with the Jews. I'd like to reiterate something I've said before. Many people know Giséle Halimi as an activist in the socialist party – my father used to take her to school [on his bicycles] during WWII in order to protect her from the Nazi soldiers.
The word "normalization" is wrong.
Moderator: We are talking about normalization with the Zionist entity…
Kaïs Saïed: The word "normalization" is wrong. This is treason. Whoever deals with an entity that has displaced an entire people for over a century should be dealt with as a traitor and be placed on trial for treason.
Moderator: Do you support making normalization a criminal offense?
Kaïs Saïed: This is not "normalization." This is the wrong word to begin with. The normal condition is that we are in a state of war with an occupying entity.
Nabil Karoui: Our position should be decided by that of the Palestinian Authority. We should examine the position of the PA – of the Palestinians – towards Israel, and as long as they support normalization, we should…
Moderator: The PA negotiates with Israel. Do you support the same position?
Nabil Karoui: No, no. We are not even in negotiations with Israel…
Moderator: But you said you adopt the same position as the Palestinian Authority…
Nabil Karoui: We support the Palestinian Authority in what it is doing.
Moderator: Do you support having a clause in the constitution to criminalize normalization and dealings with the Zionist entity?
Nabil Karoui: Yes.