Middle East Masters of Double-Talk

Depending on their audiences, Shamir and Arafat flip-flop

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rounded up the usual expressions of ambiguity last week to deny reports that he had been talking to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Asserting for the umpteenth time that he never had and never would, Shamir did admit that he has been holding "get-acquainted" talks with a Palestinian from the West Bank identified with the P.L.O. But, he insisted, "there's absolutely no negotiation with the P.L.O., direct or indirect."

As politicians -- especially Middle Eastern politicians -- are wont to do, Shamir was fudging the facts. Jamil Tarifi, a West Bank lawyer associated with the P.L.O., confirmed...

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