Rabin Sees a Deal with Syria Coming Within Next 12 Months

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a visiting delegation of American Jewish Committee leaders here this week that he is “guardedly optimistic” about reaching at least a preliminary agreement with Syria within the next 12 months.

Rabin told the group in a closed-door session Monday that while Syrian President Hafez Assad is tough, he is evidently interested in securing an accord with Israel, AJCommittee President Alfred Moses reported.

He said -Rabin also held out hope that an autonomy arrangement could be reached with the Palestinians within that time frame.

Moses said Rabin did not specifically address the escalating terrorism by Palestinians in the administered territories. But he did reiterate his opposition to a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which has been urged by some Knesset members in recent days.

The group met with Rabin to discuss his upcoming visit to Washington, the Middle East peace talks and Israel’s standing in the international community.

The group also met with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres just prior to his departure for Germany. AJCommittee officers returned from an official visit to Germany last month to investigate government efforts there to combat rising intolerance against foreigners.

Moses said Peres discussed the impact on Israel of changing global politics, stressing the importance of its increased recognition by the world community.

The AJCommittee has actively lobbied member countries of the United Nations to reassess their relationship with Israel and the anti-Israel resolutions that are routinely adopted.

Both Rabin and Peres stressed their positive reaction to the recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Moses said, while Rabin said he was “looking forward” to his meeting with President Clinton next week.

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