President Bush was in high dudgeon last...


President Bush was in high dudgeon last week when he called an impromptu press conference to let it be known that he would veto any attempt by Congress to guarantee $10 billion in )) loans to Israel over his objection.

The president's concern arose from the fact that on that very day some 1,000 lobbyists had suddenly descended upon Washington -- that's two lobbyists for every senator and House member -- to ask Congress in effect to side with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir over President Bush in a major policy dispute.

The president maintains that negotiations for a Middle East peace conference are at a highly sensitive stage, and no one is in a better position to know that than he.

This standoff should be resolved through reasonable compromise instead of ugly confrontation. If Israel will simply suspend its high-gear building of settlements in the occupied West Bank, the guarantees of the loans to settle expected Jewish emigres from Russia no doubt will be quickly forthcoming.

Every president since Gerald Ford has viewed these settlements -- essentially, annexation of the West Bank by increment -- as "obstacles to peace." Now that there is a real possibility of the kind of peace conference Israel has earnestly sought since its founding in 1948, it is not the time for Congress to place additional obstacles in the president's path as he seeks to make that conference a reality.

A reasonable compromise

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