Rabin Accuses Syria of Trying to Squelch the Peace Process

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin accused Syria over the weekend of trying to prevent a repetition of the process that led to Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. He also warned that while the Syrians have not achieved strategic parity with Israel, they could not always be trusted to behave rationally and could precipitate a war with Israel which Israel does not want but must be prepared for.

Rabin made his remarks in an address to United Jewish Appeal conference delegates here yesterday and in a speech to the weekly meeting of the Industrial and Commercial Club in Tel Aviv last Friday. Israel’s logic is not necessarily Syria’s logic, he told the UJA group, observing that in the past “we made the mistake of assuming their logic is ours or ours is theirs.”

Therefore, he suggested, although Israel’s best interest is to prevent a war, Israel must be prepared to deal with “mistakes” on the part of the Syrians, and that means possessing a strong deterrent force.

NO TENSION ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS

The Defense Minister reiterated that there is no tension whatever on the Golan Heights where the Israeli and Syrian armies face each other. For the past 10 years, he said, there have been no terrorist attempts across the Syrian-Israeli border, though Syria was pushing terrorism through Lebanon and encouraging it from Jordan, he said.

Rabin’s reassurances about the situation on the Golan Heights followed a report in the London-based Jane’s Defense Weekly last week that the Syrian army was poised to attack Israel on the Golan Heights. Israel promptly denied such a situation exists.

Israel is concerned, however, by Syria’s placement of Soviet-made SAM-2 surface-to-air missiles near its border with Lebanon, which poses a potential threat to the reconnaissance flights over Lebanon which Israel considers vital to monitor terrorist activity.

Rabin told the businessmen in Tel Aviv Friday that the missiles were all north of the Damascus-Beirut highway. He said they are located at the farthest north point of the Israel Defense Force’s advance in the eastern sector of Lebanon in 1982. The nearest Syrian missiles are 50 kilometers from Metullah on the Israel-Lebanon border, Rabin said. He stressed in his Tel Aviv speech that the situation is peaceful on the Golan Heights where, he said, both countries are abiding by their commitments under the disengagement of forces agreement of 1974. The United Nations Disengagement Observers Force (UNDOF) is carrying out its duties on the Golan and there have been no complaints of violations by either side, he said.

CITES SYRIA’S ROLE AS ‘SPOILER’

Israel is most concerned, according to Rabin, about Syria’s continued role as a “spoiler” of any viable peace process which might develop in the region. “I believe the purpose of Syrian policy is to prevent a repetition of what President (Anwar) Sadat of Egypt did. The only way which has proven effective to bring about peace between an Arab country and Israel is by a bilateral, direct negotiation for peace,” the Defense Minister said.

“Any attempt to try to achieve the beautiful word of ‘comprehensive’ peace by bringing together all the Arab countries, all the Arab organizations, and especially under a full-fledged international peace conference co-chaired by the Soviet Union and the United States, will lead nowhere,” Rabin said.

He observed that had President Sadat waited until Jordan or Syria or Saudi Arabia or all of them together were ready to agree to his terms for peace with Israel, there would have been no peace now between Israel and Egypt.

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