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Israel Now Freer to Respond to Arab Violence, Says Rabin

Because it is no longer isolated internationally, Israel is able to respond to violence and terrorism from a position of greater “strength and confidence,” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a visiting Jewish delegation here this week.

His remarks, delivered to a State of Israel Bonds group, appeared to be an effort to explain the government’s response to the recent escalation of attacks in the border security zone in southern Lebanon.

The government has been reluctant to respond to every attack for fear of jeopardizing the peace process.

On Sunday, however, Rabin said Israel would no longer hesitate to retaliate and added that reinforcements had been deployed to defend the security zone and settlements in northern Israel.

“I believe we are capable to cope with (the situation) wisely, from a standpoint of strength and confidence,” he said.

In the latest incidents along the border, three Katyusha rockets landed in the Israeli-controlled security zone Monday, but no casualties or damages resulted.

Despite Rabin’s tough words the day before, there appeared to be no Israeli military response to the latest provocation.

In his address to the Bonds group, Rabin also outlined the type of peace he envisions with Syria: one with open borders and other aspects of normalization between the two peoples.

“For this kind of peace, I am ready to make painful compromises because I believe in (its) value and importance,” he said. “I believe the time has arrived to take calculated risks for peace and we will do it.”

Israel’s negotiations with Syria have been stalled over ambiguous definitions of peace and withdrawal.

A recent report in an official Syrian newspaper said that upgrading the bilateral peace talks to direct discussions on a ministerial level would be meaningless without an Israeli commitment to full withdrawal from formerly Arab territories.

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