On negotiations with Syria:

Q: Is an agreement, or are negotiations, with Syria any more imminent today than yesterday?

Rabin: Whoever believes that we will eventually achieve comprehensive peace that is, with the three countries there is progress. Yes, we are advancing. At the same time, to tell the truth, there are still large gaps between Syria’s positions and those of Israel; time will certainly be required to bridge between them.

Q: Such as the depth of withdrawal being proportional to the extent of the Syrian commitment of peace?

Rabin: There are four major components which have still not been resolved: * the depth of the withdrawal, * the schedule for the withdrawal that is, its duration; * the third matter, obviously, involves the stages in the implementation of peace; as with Egypt, we insist that there be a protracted phase of normalization in other words, open borders and embassies, even before we complete our withdrawal to a yet undetermined line, and; * the fourth issue is security arrangements that is, those things connected with the changes required by peace, such that Israel and Syria are shielded from the unexpected.

On all four issues, gaps remain.

Q: Do you share President Mubarak’s assessment that there may be a settlement by the end of the year?

Rabin: I am not a prophet. I think that Government policy should not be judged by words, but mainly by results. Accordingly, I hope so but I certainly cannot promise this.

Q: According to reports from Cairo, President Mubarak estimated that Syria has softened its position regarding peace. Is this also your assessment, your impression, after meeting with President Mubarak?

Rabin: Negotiations between the Syrians and ourselves are being conducted primarily through the United States, through the contacts which the United States maintains with Syria on the one hand, and with Israel on the other. Already during the process, there is some sort of Syrian agreement to some signs of components of peace, but they are still far from satisfying us concerning timetables and substance.

Q: You spoke about some signs. Could you specify some of these signs?

Rabin: No, I could not be more specific, since it is still more of a dialogue between Syria and the U.S., than between Syria and us.

Q: President Mubarak also assessed that Syria would not be satisfied with less than a complete withdrawal [from the Golan Heights] before it moves on to the next stage in relations with us, or in negotiations with us a declaration at least about readiness for full withdrawal, a declaration which you have yet to make.

Rabin: As I have already said, there is a dispute, significant differences of opinion between Syria and us, over everything connected with the extent of the withdrawal.

Q: There was a proposal last week that you meet with the Syrian president in Washington, and that he would head a delegation of Arab heads of state. The Egyptian President was supposed to have raised the proposal in his discussion with President Assad. Has there been any response?

Rabin: I do not know of any such discussion between the Egyptian and Syrian presidents; I wish that this were already possible. I still do not see that the Syrian President is prepared to meet with me, even against the background of bilateral relations; he certainly does not have authority to do so from other Arab states which are not engaged in negotiations with us. I doubt whether such authority would be given to him, and whether he would want this before the bilateral problems between Syria and Israel are resolved.




Rabin: United Jerusalem is the de facto capital of the State of Israel. Even if the issue of Jerusalem is raised in negotiations, as was agreed in the Declaration of Principles, and at most no later than two years from now, we will stand by our clear and unequivocal position: that in any case, Jerusalem must be united, under Israeli sovereignty and the capital of Israel. This, then, is the reality, and will remain so in the future as well.