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Mideast standoff


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

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.

Bush could show more flexibility 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.

Shamir rejects Bush's calls for a halt in Israeli settlements. 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. Congress should tell them both to cut the other some slack.

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