Middle East Must We Talk? Now?

As the date for a peace conference nears, Israel and the Arabs show acute discomfort at the idea of being face to face

Nothing, Samuel Johnson once remarked, so concentrates a man's mind as the knowledge that he is to be hanged in a fortnight. In the Middle East, the approach of a peace conference has the same effect. As Secretary of State James Baker took off last weekend for what he called his final swing to nail down arrangements for the gathering that will at last bring Arabs and Israelis face to face, those two sides were anxiously bumping and jostling each other.

Which does not necessarily mean the conference is in danger of fizzling. Quite the contrary: almost everybody seems to believe...

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