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Netanyahu Vows to Reach Peace Pact With Syria

December 26, 1996|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Wednesday that he will be the Israeli leader to forge peace with Syria.

"I have no doubt that we will succeed in the mission of achieving peace with Syria in this government's present term," Netanyahu told legislators in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

But Netanyahu, whose term ends in 2000, also suggested that he was not backing away from his opposition to Syria's demand that Israel return the entire Golan Heights, which it captured in 1967.

Israel-Syria peace talks stalled in February.

Netanyahu has proposed, as a means of reestablishing trust, that Israel first withdraw troops from a border zone it occupies in southern Lebanon in exchange for guarantees from Syria, which is the main power broker in Lebanon, that the border will remain peaceful.

Syria turned down the offer, saying Israel must leave Lebanon unconditionally and peace talks with Syria must address the Golan question.

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