In a number of press and radio interviews, the prime minister expressed his position on the future peace arrangements with Syria and on the state of the talks with that country. Various media reports dealt with a possible timetable of three years and the final border between Israel and Syria. Speaking to the cabinet, the prime minister sought to clarify his position. Later he authorized his media adviser to issue the following statement in order to ensure that his position is well understood in Israel, Syria and the United States. Text:
The prime minister said that we have no agreement with the Syrians on the line we would reach at the end of the negotiations. We have no commitment to the Syrians regarding any line of withdrawal.
What has been said - and this is the entire basis for the talks with the Americans is that: 1. We accept the principle of withdrawal on the Golan Heights, and
2. We see a package deal as a table with four legs (this is also how we presented it
to the Americans):
A. the depth of the withdrawal;
B. the period during which the withdrawal would be carried out,
C. the stages of the withdrawal and the linkage between them and normalization. Our position is a slight withdrawal in the first stage - without the dismantling of a single settlement if possible, a testing period of three years, of at least full normalization in relations with Syria, including embassies, and only afterwards, to continue with the withdrawal. That is, normalization will meet the full test for three years after the slight withdrawal. There was a similar testing period with the Egyptians, during the 26 months following Sadat's visit. Then, we remained at the Ras Muhammad-El Arish line from February 1980 until April 1982. During this period, there was full normalization, including embassies and an open border.
We are now speaking about three years - a three-year testing period - during which we would remain at the minor and very partial withdrawal line;
D. agreement over security arrangements which must ensure security in the case of peace with Syria.
From the Americans, we will request support in three areas: - deterrence; - warning; - security breathing space.
In response to a question from Agriculture Minister Ya'akov Tsur, the prime minister said, "We are not prepared to commit ourselves regarding the depth of the withdrawal before the Syrians agree to the number of years over which it will continue - and this must be more than three years, because three years is for the first line only, and the Syrians have not yet agreed."
The prime minister restated his position and said that in any case of significant withdrawal [in exchange] for peace with Syria, the draft peace treaty would be brought to the people to decide in a referendum.