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Bourbuiba Says Palestine Arabs, Israeli Jews Should Seek Solution Without Outsiders

May 17, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia told the National Press Club today that Israel represents a “classical problem of de-colonization.” He said the solution should be reached between the Palestinian Arabs and the Jews of Israel rather than involve the Arab states who, he said, had rendered the problem more difficult. Mr. Bourguiba said he welcomed indications that the Palestinian Arabs were themselves taking action. He visualized extremists and moderates on both sides and a long period required to work out a Palestinian solution similar to those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

The Tunisian leader urged that the peoples directly involved determine their own fate without the involvement of outsiders. He characterized the Arabs as frustrated and humiliated by the three Israeli victories. In this context, he said, he welcomed indications that the Arabs directly concerned were now taking steps for “de-colonization.” President Bourguiba spent a considerable time tracing the history of Palestine and the development of the Jewish State. He emphasized that a solution must recognize the rights of all concerned.

Commenting on the difficulties experienced by the Arabs in presenting their case in the United States, President Bourguiba said “tremendous opposition” was generated by what was interpreted here as an attempt by Arabs to exterminate the Jews. He said this conclusion resulted from “bad Arab propaganda.” The Arabs never used gas chambers and had been persecuted with the Jews in the Middle Ages, he said. The Arab case should involve the rights of both Jews and Arabs, he declared. The Tunisian President spent his entire press conference answering questions on Israel.

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