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Bourguiba Urges Israeli Withdrawal; Urges UN Presence in Occupied Territories

May 21, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia today called upon Israel to withdraw its armed forces from all territories that it occupied as a result of the Six-Day War “without any exception.” Along with Israel’s troop withdrawals, he said, “United Nations forces should take up positions in these zones.”

Addressing a plenary session of the General Assembly, Mr. Bourguiba, who in the past had called outright for Arab-Israeli negotiations, took a stand squarely with the Arabs. Noting that neither the armistice agreement of 1948 nor the results of the Egypt-Israeli war of 1956 had brought about peace in the Middle East, Mr. Bourguiba endorsed what he called the Palestinians’ “resistance” to Israel.

Mr. Bourguiba wondered whether the “Middle East crisis is today entering the stage of a long struggle which…has shown the leaders in Tel Aviv that, in launching a victorious Six-Day War, they have perhaps begun a war lasting 10 years or even longer, the outcome of which is far more uncertain.” He said “there is no doubt that, so long as Israel refuses to accept unequivocally the Security Council’s resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, the Arab peoples have no choice but to think in terms of fighting. For their part, the Arab governments have, on the whole, accepted this resolution and are prepared to accept the consequences and the responsibility of a solution.”

“A plan could be worked out,” he said, “which would have as a first phase the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces from all the territories during the conflict it set off on June 5, 1967, without any exception. Simultaneously, and still in the first phase, UN forces would take up positions in these zones. During the second phase. Ambassador Jarring would open appropriate negotiations with the parties concerned to guarantee the implications and the terms of all the other provisions of the resolution. The third phase would consist of a Security Council decision based on a report by the Secretary-General U Thant and his special representatives declaring that the resolution had received sufficient application and ordering the withdrawal of UN troops so that the countries concerned could resume control of their respective territories.”

According to Mr. Bourguiba, a number of powers, “such as France” have already expressed their readiness to participate in such an operation. He suggested that powers that could be approached for participation in the new UN force might be Sweden, India, Yugoslavia, Senegal, among others.

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