Tunisian Lawmaker Rips Israeli Flag at Parliament to Protest Formal Ties

Lawmaker criticizes delay in law that would criminalize normalizing ties with Israel – though the two countries do not have any formal diplomatic relations

An illustrative photo of Tunisian protesters burning a drawn Israeli flag during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Tunis, December 7, 2017.

A Tunisian legislator has ripped up an Israeli flag during a parliament session to push his demands for a law criminalizing relations with Israel.

A left-wing opposition coalition proposed a bill making it a crime to "normalize" relations with Israel, but the debate has been indefinitely delayed because parliament officials did not see at as a priority. Tunisia's president has played down the proposed law.

Opposition lawmaker Ammar Amroussia tore the flag Tuesday to protest the delay, in images shown on national television.

Moderate Islamist party Ennahdha, part of the governing coalition, warned such a law could hurt Tunisia's relations with Western nations and international organizations.

Tunisia, like most Arab countries, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Tunisia was long seen as a model of tolerance in the region but has faced growing Islamic extremism.