Jerusalem, 20 January 1997

PM’S OFFICE STATEMENT ON ISRAELI POLICY VIS-A-VIS SYRIA

(Communicated by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor)

The Prime Minister’s Office released the following statement yesterday

(Sunday), 19.1.97:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wishes to clarify his positions in regard to several newspaper stories on the Israeli-Syrian negotiations. Israel views the Golan Heights as a region of strategic military importance for the defense of Israel against current threats. The Prime Minister has also said that in any future negotiations between Israel and Syria, either party should be free to raise its claims at the negotiating table. This includes territorial claims.

Regarding reports of U.S. messages to Israel on the Syrian-Israeli negotiating process, the Prime Minister refuses to comment on press reports of purported diplomatic exchanges. There are lots of newspaper articles that come out; the Prime Minister does not feel that he needs to comment on every one. At the same time, the Prime Minister wishes to stress that he values the considerable time ad energy invested by the U.S. in past Israeli-Syrian negotiations.