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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Mulls Test Pullback From Heights

JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Thursday for the first time outlined a plan for a limited Israeli pullback on the Golan Heights lasting three years to test the prospects for peace with Syria.


Rabin has been looking for a breakthrough in 3-year-old peace talks, which are deadlocked over the fate of the heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. Some 13,000 Jews now live in settlements there. Syria demands a full withdrawal.


Rabin's office issued a statement quoting him as telling the cabinet: "Our position is that -- in the first stage -- there will be a very slight withdrawal, if possible without uprooting a single settlement."


The unusual statement, following accusations by settlers that he planned to cede all of the heights in three years, quoted Rabin as saying: "For three years after the slight withdrawal, the normalization in its entirety will be put to a test."


He cited as precedent Israel's ground-breaking peace with Egypt when for 26 months in 1980-82 the two countries swapped embassies and opened borders after a partial Israeli pullback from Sinai. Israel finally returned Sinai to Egypt.