JERUSALEM (Jul. 8)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Cabinet today that it was pointless for Israel to continue exchanging public statements with President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia in light of insulting remarks Bourguiba reportedly made about Israel and Premier Golda Meir. In an interview over the week-end the Tunisian President was quoted as saying that Premier Meir was a “liar.” Eban said Bourguiba had also likened Israel to the Nazis in a public statement.
Eban said Israel has repeatedly stated it was ready for talks with any authoritative Arab leader without preconditions. Obviously, Bourguiba’s insistence that Israel return to the 1947 partition boundaries is wholly unacceptable and obviously there are sharp divergences between Israel and Tunisia on the Middle East issue, Eban said. However, he added, these did not preclude meeting Bourguiba and talking to him, the Foreign Minister stressed.
Eban’s remarks nevertheless are believed to spell the end of public statements by Israel welcoming Bourguiba’s much publicized proposal for talks with Israeli leaders–a proposal he made a month ago through the medium of Italian newspapers. Eban has repeatedly said that all Bourguiba had to do if he wanted a meeting with Premier Meir was to suggest a time and place.
NO CHANGE ON PALESTINIAN STATE
The Foreign Ministry meanwhile has denied press reports that the government intended to redefine its stand on a Palestinian state. In his Le Monde interview last week, Eban said the matter of a Palestinian state could be decided only after a peace agreement is reached between Israel and Jordan and then it will be a matter for the Palestinians and Jordanians to decide. He said that in no case could a Palestinian state be created in place of Israel or at the expense of Israel’s sovereignty and security.
Newspapers had reported here over the weekend that Israel was ready to review its policy on a Palestinian state in preparation for resumed talks on the subject with the United States.
Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.S., said yesterday that the growing tendency among the Arab-states to focus world attention on the Palestine issue may encourage terrorists to strike at more Israeli targets abroad Rabin said the Arab states were promoting a Palestinian entity because of their own failures in the military and political spheres.
In an interview published in the Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar last week, Bourguiba proposed that the problem of Palestine and Jordan be settled by “an Arab summit” meeting. He called Jordan an “artificial creation” and said that King Hussein should “submit to the will of the people in accordance with democratic principles and the right of self determination.”