To enlist Syria's help in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the United States backed away from its long effort to keep Lebanon from being taken over by Syria. There are now an estimated 40,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon, and the Lebanese government largely takes its orders from Damascus.
Some Israelis argue that accepting that situation in a peace treaty is a mistake.
"If there's a peace agreement that leaves Syrian forces in Lebanon, Syria will have the possibility to attack Israel on two fronts. I think it's strategic folly," said Efraim Inbar, director of the Besa Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv.
"In order to solve a small problem [in southern Lebanon], we will create a huge strategic problem," he said.
Mr. Rabin argues that the only way to stop the bloodshed in Lebanon is to come to an agreement with Syria. He will have to make that argument persuasively if he is to convince the Israeli public of the value of a treaty that gives the Golan Heights back to Syria. Polls show that most Israelis oppose such a move.
"If the government starts to deal with Syria, it's not only about the Golan Heights," said Mr. Dromi, the government spokesman. "The public will consider all the aspects: southern Lebanon, the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the end of the Arab boycott, the opening of relations with gulf states."
"Everybody accepts that we will get out of Lebanon sooner or later," said Yossi Olmert, an Israeli expert on Syria and Lebanon. "It's not an ideological issue. There's no 'right' or 'left' on this issue. It's only an issue of security."