JERUSALEM (May. 12)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin noted today that Syria might well be shifting significantly in the Arab world, partly as a result of its role in Lebanon, and said that this shift could result in a changed position towards talks with Israel, too. The Premier spoke in Tel Aviv at a meeting of the Labor Party’s moshav division.
Commenting on reports of an impending Syrian-Egyptian rapprochement under Saudi Arabian auspices, Rabin said that if Saudia “or a moderate superpower” could bring Syria to adopt a positive position, together with Egypt, towards end-of-war talks with Israel, he would see in that “a most positive development.” In fact, Rabin continued, this was virtually the only feasible scenario for diplomatic progress in the Mideast during 1976.
Rabin’s remarks were seen by observers as especially significant in view of the many reports during recent weeks of Syrian-American-Israeli tacit collaboration over the Lebanese crisis. According to some of these reports. Syrian intervention was “cleared” with Israel through the U.S. in advance. Political observers in Israel and in the U.S. had wondered whether this collaboration might perhaps spark subsequent Israel-Syria interim settlement talks under American aegis.
There were also reports that President Hafez Assad of Syria had thrown out some positive hints on this subject to Sen. Jacob. K, Javits (R.NY), who recently toured the area. But Israel and American sources tended to play down these reports, and to play down too, speculation of possible Israel-Syrian talks as an outgrowth of the Lebanese diplomatic activities. Rabin warned again, as he did yesterday, that if the end-of-war initiative did not get off the ground this year there might well be a thorough re-examination of over-all settlement prospects by the new Washington Administration next year.