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Israel’s Army Intelligence Chief Says Syria Ready for Peace With AM-Israel-Unrest, Bjt

March 26, 1994

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Syria is ready for full peace with Israel, but President Hafez Assad first needs to hear Israel is ready to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights, Israel’s chief of military intelligence says.

In an interview published Friday in the Yediot Ahronot daily, Maj. Gen Uri Saguy also called Syria’s army ″formidable″ and getting stronger, and said Syria still considered Israel its primary enemy.

Talks between Israel and the Syrians focus on the future of the strategic Golan Heights plateau, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says he will not specify how far Israel will withdraw until he hears Assad define what Syria means by peace. Israel sees peace as including full diplomatic relations and open borders.

Saguy said that from Assad’s point of view, the Syrian president ″has to believe he will receive the entire Golan Heights″ before he defines the peace.

″There is in Syria, now more than ever, an understanding that in return for full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, it will be asked for - and, I think, it will agree to - peace with all its characteristics, including diplomatic relations,″ Saguy told Yediot Ahronot.

On the subject of Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat, Saguy said that Arafat’s position among Palestinians had weakened since the Feb. 25 Hebron mosque massacre while support for the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas, which opposes the Israel-PLO accord, had increased. But he said Arafat still had the upper hand.

The PLO-Israel accord to introduce autonomy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho has been delayed by numerous negotiating differences.

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