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Bourguiba Says Peace Mission Has Failed

President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia admits that his recent peace-making efforts for the Middle East have failed. Bourguiba, who is in France on a private visit, said in an interview published today in Le Monde that he had not so much “proposed a meeting with the Israelis as a solution to the conflict” as he had called on Israel to evacuate the occupied territories and accept the 1947 partition boundaries as a “basis for a dialogue.”

Asked by Le Monde whether he thought his proposed peace plan “unrealistic,” he said that once Israel admitted the principle of the 1947 partitioning, “We could then modify the borders through negotiations.” He said the 1947 borders had “a certain legality” whereas the current borders were “acquired by force.” The Tunisian President said any settlement would have to include “the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.” He said Israel would never be secure as long as it occupied Arab territory.

Bourguiba said the fact that none of the Arab countries nor Palestinian organizations reacted publicly to his proposals constituted “great progress, particularly so in the case of the Palestinians whom I am asking to give up part of their land.”