Tunisian Official Urges Direct Israel-palestinian Negotiations

Tunisian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ending a three-day official visit to France, declared here today that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were “possible.” When asked how he envisaged a settlement of the conflict, he said he had no “miraculous solution” but added: “Only the evacuation of the occupied territories and the recognition of the Palestinians’ national rights can solve the problem.” Bouteflika’s visit is the first by an Algerian Foreign Minister since Algeria became independent 11 years ago.

Bouteflika said a Mideast solution “does not mean throwing people into the sea and it does not justify continuing to push the Palestinians into the sands of the desert.” He did not make it clear, however, whether he was suggesting that the Palestinian guerrillas were now willing to hold serious talks with the Israelis or whether he meant there could be no Israeli negotiations with the Arab states unless the Palestinians are included.

PALESTINIAN UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT URGED

Meanwhile there were reports here today that a Palestinian terrorist leader suggested in Beirut the creation of a Palestinian underground movement inside Israel’s borders to subvert the Jewish State from within. Dr. George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed that there are a million and a quarter Palestinians living within Israel’s borders, and they should form the nucleus of the underground organization “to promote the endless struggle against the Zionist entity.”

Observers in Beirut noted today that within recent weeks Arab moves in the Middle East have focussed less on Israeli withdrawal from the territories it captured in the 1967 war than on the formation of a Palestinian state. The new emphasis on a Palestinian entity is supported by Egypt and Tunisia. But the Egyptians appear to be thinking in terms of a Palestinian state created in the occupied territories whereas President Habib Bourguiba, of Tunisia, recently proposed that King Hussein abdicate and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state.

But Bourguiba also proposed recently that talks with Israel should use the 1947 partition boundaries as a starting point for the negotiation of territorial matters. The partition boundaries delineated separate Arab and Jewish states within the territory that was formerly Palestine.

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