Israeli Defense Minister says it is crucial to clinch a peace deal with Syria before too late, saying otherwise Tel Aviv could find itself at war with Damascus.
Addressing an annual gathering of senior army officers on Monday, Ehud Barak highlighted the significance of opening negotiations while Syria perceived Israel as being strong, the Jerusalem Post website reports.
Barak described the coming year as one of many challenges but expressed optimism about opportunities to make peace with Syria and the Palestinians.
"In the absence of a deal with Syria we could reach an armed conflict that could develop into a full-fledged war," he warned.
"As is in the Middle East, immediately after the war we will sit down and negotiate exactly what we have been talking about for the past 15 years."
Damascus and Tel Aviv remain at adds with each other over the Golan Heights, which Tel Aviv occupied during the six-day war of 1967 and later annexed, ignoring international opposition.
Syria, an outspoken critic of Israel, has preconditioned any peace negotiation with the Tel Aviv regime with a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the strategic region.