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Bill by Algerian lawmakers looks to criminalize normalization with Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, Palestinian protestors chant slogans and wave the national flag and the Algerian flag during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Bethlehem following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers. (Photo by Getty Images)

Dozens of Algerian legislators have presented a bill to the parliament seeking to criminalize the promotion of normalization with Israel, as opposed to neighboring nation Morocco’s agreement to resume its diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime in a deal brokered by the United States last December.

Youcef Adjissa, a member of the Movement for the Society of Peace – Algeria’s largest Islamic party, submitted the bill on the behalf of 50 lawmakers to the Presidency of the National People’s Assembly (parliament) on Thursday, Palestinian Arabic-language Shehab news agency reported.

The bill reportedly comes in seven articles, the first of which states “it aims to criminalize normalization with the Zionist entity,” referring to Israel.

It adds, “It is forbidden to communicate, establish any relationships, or open representative offices of any kind and at any level with the Zionist entity, either directly or indirectly.”

Another article stipulates that “it is not allowed to travel to and from the Zionist entity, and it is also forbidden to enter or receive citizenship of the Zionist entity in Algeria or at the headquarters of its diplomatic missions.”

The bill must have a vote of two-thirds of members of the parliament to become law.

“This law is based on the positions of the Algerian state that rejects normalization with the Zionist entity, especially since normalization seriously affected the issue of Western Sahara through political bargaining, with commercial justifications and suspicious deals,” Algerian lawmaker Amira Selim had earlier said in a message posted on her Facebook page.

If the law is passed, an offender could be “punished by imprisonment from three to 10 years,” and may have their professional accreditations rescinded as a punitive measure.

Offenders may also be subject to a fine ranging from 300,000 to one million dinars ($2,273 to $7,619).

“The penalty can be extended to 15 years and the fine doubled in the event of a repeat offense,” Selim noted.

Israel and Morocco agreed on December 10 to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump, making the North African country the fourth Arab state last year to strike a deal aimed at establishment of relations with the regime. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. As part of the agreement, the US president agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry later rejected Trump's stance, saying the US decision “has no legal effect because it contradicts UN resolutions, especially UN Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara.”

“The proclamation would undermine the de-escalation efforts made at all levels in order to pave the way for launching a real political process,” the ministry said in a statement.

Additionally, the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement reacted to announcement that Morocco will normalize relations with Israel, denouncing the deal.

“This is a sin and it doesn’t serve the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation uses every new normalization deal to increase its aggression against the Palestinian people and increase its settlement expansion,” Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman said at the time.

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