Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

President of Tunisia Reiterates Call for Arab-israeli Peace Talks

April 23, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Pursuing his policy of urging peace negotiations between the Arabs and Israel, Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba came out here last night in a public speech with concrete proposals, and suggested that Israel and the Arab countries appoint negotiators to meet in a neutral country to start peace talks based on these proposals.

His basic proposal was that the Arab countries should recognize Israel on condition that Israel accept the United Nations Palestine partition recommendations of 1947. He referred specifically to acceptance by Israel of the original boundaries proposed in the UN recommendations, under which Israel would give up additional territory taken in driving out invading Arab armies in the 1948 war.

Israel would also be required to accept the principle of giving the Arab refugees a choice between returning to pre-1948 homes or compensation by Israel. The President of Tunisia expressed doubt whether these conditions would be acceptable to Israel. However, he added that United Nations machinery such as the UN Secretariat could be helpful in the negotiations.


In an interview with the correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor, President Bourguiba said he cannot accept a proposal voiced by Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir that he visit Israel to negotiate. “Only Palestine Arabs are qualified to negotiate on their fate; I am not,” he said. Mrs. Meir made her proposal in an interview with an Israeli Journalist, which was broadcast from Tel Aviv on April 16.

“Would Mrs. Meir accept this compromise solution of returning to legality within the framework of United Nations decision?” asked Mr. Bourguiba. “If I were an Israeli I would do so. It would be a compromise which would make possible both cooperation and coexistence. If Israel would agree to negotiate on this basis, the Palestine Arabs themselves and other representatives of the Arab people can negotiate with them.” he added.

He said the Arab world could not afford to begin and could not presently win a war against Israel. The dispute over diversion of Jordan River water was “secondary” and “like other Arab-Israel disputes, would disappear if a basic compromise solution were found.” President Bourguiba stated. “The Jordan waters could then become an element of cooperation for development of a vast region,” he added.

“But first we must create a climate of coexistence between Jews and Arabs,” he stressed. “Maybe we need some sort of Gallup poll,” he said, to determine the real reactions of Arabs to his counsels of hardheadedness and moderation.

Recommended from JTA