Heedless game of chicken


ISRAELI PRIME Minister Yitzhak Shamir has some traits in common with President George Bush. They are both hardheaded men.

Their stubbornness has become a hindrance to progress in the quest for lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Their heedless game of chicken is also putting the U.S.-Israeli "special relationship" under enormous strain at a time when it should be moving harmoniously in a common purpose.

President Bush could show more flexibility in his posture regarding $10 billion in loan guarantees so that Israel can absorb an expected one million Soviet immigrants. . . . Bush entreated Congress to delay considering the request for 120 days and later threatened to veto any authorization without any request.

Shamir, on the other hand, defiantly rejects Bush's calls for a halt in Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

His obduracy imperils financing the absorption and jeopardizes an embryonic peace process.

Shamir should show reasonableness by declaring a freeze on settlements, and Bush should "thaw" his veto pledge in return. Congress should tell them both to cut the other some slack.

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