Although skeptical of the sincerity of his intentions, Israel has welcomed Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's statement tht any future Palestinian state will have to maintain some link with Jordan.
Reactions in the occupied West Bank were mised: in Judea, the southern half of the West Bank, the reaction was positive, but leaders in Samaria, the northern half, vehemently rejected the idea.
The official Isreali response to the Egyptian leader's proposals, which were made in an interview with The Washington Post, was voiced yesterday by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon in a speech at Ramat Gan, north of Tel Aviv.
"If indeed Sadat has qualified his earlier support for a third state between the desert and the Miditerranean, this is a positive development. However, other things said by Sadat in this interview were less positive," Allon said.
Allon referred mainly to the Egyptian president's demand that Israel withdraw to its 1967 borders. According to Allon, the borders between Israel and neighboring Arab states should be decided in negotiations at Geneva. Sadat's demand amounts to a pre-condition for a Geneva conference, Allon said.
Similar opinions were expressed today in editorials in the Israeli press. "Haaretz," Isreal's largest morning paper, suggested that Sadat's proposals should be seen as part of the pressure the Arabs are attempting to put on the incoming Carter administration in the hoep that the United States will persuade Israel to meet Arab conditions.
"Haaretz" and several Israeli souces saw a change in Sadat's rediness to have a Palestinian state associated "in some framework of relations" with Jordan. Some sources noted that this appears to be a rebuke to the Palestine Liberation Organization and its leaders, perhaps reflecting a weakening of the PLO's influence as a result of its setbacks in Lebanon.
On the West Bank, the mayor of Bethlehem, Elisas Freij, known as a moderate, said in an interview, "I agree with Sadat's proposal 100 per cent. This has been my idea for a long time." He added, however, that a confederation with Jordan should come as a second stage after establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
(A PLO spokesman said today it is "premature" to discuss the possibility of a formal tie between Jordan and any Palestinian state that may be created, United Press International reported from Beirut. "Such matters will have to be decided by the representatives of the Palestinian people," the spokesman said, indicating the subject would be referred to the Palestinian National Council, which represents Palestian communities thoughout the Middle East.
(Abbas Mahmoud, condemned Abu Mazen, a member of the PLO Central Council, told a news conference at Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, however, that he "welcomes the establishment of a link between an independent Palestinian state and any neighboring Arab entity." He added that "any possible link must be voluntary and not forced.")
The Jerusalem Arab Daily, El Kuds, while praising the idea of a Pelestinian state associated with Jordan, suggested that details of the relationship should be determined in a conference among Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the PLO. El Kuds said that a Jordan-Palestine association woudl neutralize Israeli resistance to a Palestinian State.
Different reactions were voiced by mayors of towns in Samaria. Karim Khalas, the mayor of Ramallah, said that only the PLO is qualifed to speak for the Palestinians. Hilmi Hanun, mayor of Tulkarm, said he does not rule out the possibility of an association with Jordan, but he said the PLO should make such a decision.