BONN (Jul. 20)
President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia told a press conference here today that he favored a solution of the Arab-Israel conflict based “on the United Nations decision on the partition of Palestine coupled with return of the Arab refugees” but he also said that “any solution must be acceptable to both sides.”
The Tunisian leader, who enraged Arab rulers last year by repeated public calls to them to negotiate a settlement with Israel, is in Bonn on an official visit. He made his statement in reply to a question from a newsman about ways to achieve peace in the Middle East.
He said generally that peace was achieved in the “hearts and souls” of people and could not come about unaccompanied by justice. “I understand the position of the Jews, who have suffered greatly but their problems cannot be solved at the expense of the Arabs, ” he added. “Even if the Jews lived in Palestine 2,000 years, this does not mean that any solution of current problems can be one-sided.”
The Tunisian President was asked whether a reconciliation was possible between him and President Nasser of Egypt. He replied that he had no intention of becoming Nasser’s “satellite,” He said the Tunisians were a free people and intended to remain so in spite of Nasser.
He also asserted that the real reason for the difference between himself and Nasser was not the “so-called” Palestine question but rather Nasser’s desire to increase his hegemony to include all of the Arab states. He explained that this was why Tunisia had left the Arab League and that it would not return to the League as long as membership made it impossible to maintain an independent policy.