Druze students crossing the border back into Israel Tuesday.
Druze students crossing the border back into Israel Tuesday. Photo by Gil Eliahu
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that plans can be drawn up for the day after the Assad regime collapses, now that the Syrian prime minister has defected.

Earlier this week, Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to Jordan.

At a press conference in South Africa Tuesday, Clinton said she couldn't provide a timetable, but she knew Bashar Assad's regime would fall.

Clinton said it was vital that government institutions remain intact in Syria, and that a civil war should be avoided. Anyone who wants to exploit the Syrian people's difficult situation by sending in mercenaries or terrorists should be warned that this is not acceptable, she said.

Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah told U.S. television network CBS he expects Assad to "stick to his guns." Assad believes that justice is on his side, Abdullah said.

He said Assad and his regime see no alternative but to stay in power. Abullah also referred to a scenario under which the Assad regime would continue to rule over parts of Syria.

He said the crisis was costing Assad about $1 billion a month. If money continues to flow to in, Assad could conceivably remain in power indefinitely, Abdullah added.

Also on Tuesday, Druze students from the northern Golan Heights returned to Israel from Syria. Seventeen more Druze students who are studying in Damascus and have permits to return remain across the border. They have asked to return due to the violence in Syria.

Dozens of Druze waited on Tuesday at the border in the Golan, hoping to greet family members. They said the students were supposed to return home two weeks ago, but there were concerns about safety on the road from Damascus.