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Israeli prospects for peace
with Syria, Lebanon in limbo

November 5, 1995
Web posted at: 2:20 a.m. EST (0720 GMT)

(CNN) -- While Western leaders expressed shock and sorrow over the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, those hostile to Rabin's Middle East policies were less kind.

Syrian media reported the assassination of Rabin with no comment. Rabin, who led Israel's defeat of Syria during the Six Day War, had been discussing peace with Damascus since 1991, but with no tangible results.

In Lebanon, Palestinian and Muslim Lebanese guerrillas fired into the night sky in celebration minutes after hearing news of the death of Rabin, security sources said.

The new leader of the militant Palestinian Islamic Jihad group hailed the assassination. Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, who succeeded Fathi Shqaqi after his assassination in Malta last week, said he was not sorry about Rabin's killing.

In Iran, one of Israel's staunchest opponents, the official news agency Irna headlined its report: "Rabin dead, paid in his own coin." It said: "Rabin was an ardent advocate of state terrorism and believed that the Zionist entity should break every international norm in the pursuit of its sinister goals."

With Rabin's death, the prospects for improved relations with Syria and Lebanon, considered the next phase in the peace process, have dimmed. Israel is deeply split about returning the Golan Heights to Damascus. Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who lacks Rabin's military credentials, may not be able to persuade Israelis that Syria can be trusted.

Peres' transitional government may also lack standing to carry forth Rabin's diplomatic efforts. Although legally the transitional government has all the powers of an ordinary government, the opposition may argue that it lacks the moral authority to make far-reaching territorial concessions.

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