Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Operation said here today that they hope the revealations that King Hussein has been on the Central Intelligence Agency payroll would derail current Middle East peace efforts.
A canvas of five mainstream PLO leaders in Beirut, indicated that it is the consensus of the Palestine movement's umbrella organization that they can use the revelations to resist pressure to go to the peace table as subjects of Jordan.
A group of top Lebanese editors known for their independence concurred privately that the information had placed new political weapons in the Palestiinians' hands.
The Palestinians have been grudgingly allowing themselves to be pressured by Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia into a reconciliation with Jordan's Hussein, long considered the arch-enemy of the Palestinians in the Arab world.
The purpose of the forced reconciliation has been to get the Palestinians to the peace tables with Israel by including them in the Jordanian delegation to the on-again, off-again Geneva peace conference. The Israelis have refused to talk to the Palestinians under any but Jordanian auspices.
"Im very happy about this," said one of the PLO leaders. It's the best thing that's happened in weeks. It will help us. Every little bit helps."
Only yesterday, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had urged in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance that the PLO accept "official and declared" links with Jordan. Vance is touring the region in search of peace formulas.
Close observers of the Arabs scene said that the revelations about Hussein could damage and embarass Syrian President Hafez Assad, who has been drawing very close to the Jordanian monarch.
It is seen inevitable that Arab leader who attempt to cooperate with the United States will be accused of being tools of the CIA.
Some observers said it will be harder for Arab leaders to accept President Carter's invitation for them to visit Washington this spring to confer on peace settlement which U.S. officials had left was closer now than any time in the past 30 years.
In a part of the world where most people believe in plots and conspiracies, the revelations that one Arab leader has been paid by the CIA means that an Arab leader can escape that charge.
"You have to think like an Arab to understand what it really means," said a widely respected Arab commentator who asked that his name not be used because of fears that the authorities might crack down on him. "All Arab leaders are now suspect, especially by their armies, if they call for peace.
While the PLO declined any official comment on the story, the five leaders of the organization, including two members of its ruling executive committee said in interviews here today that the story confirmed what they have always thought about the Jordanian monarch.
They have considered Hussein, 41, and approaching his 25th year on the throne, a traitor on the Arab cause since 1970 when his narmies attacked Palestinian guerrillas bases in Jordan and threw the Palestinian fighters out of the country.
"It's more nasty black mark on his duty nasty black neck," said a PLO official.
More important, however, PLO officials said the information is anothe weapon to use against the Arab states who they feel are willing to trade away the Palstinians' rights to a state of their own in exchange for peace with Israel.
Faced with the might of Syrian tanks ringing their camps here and other major Arab powers arrayed against them, the PLO has been slowly giving in to demands that they forget their dream of making a secular state out of what now is Israel.
The Palestinians have agreed to accept a Palestinian mini-state on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip and have allowed the Arab powers to enlarge and stack the PLO National Council - its Parliament-in-Exile - with moderates. Next month the Council is expected to revise the Palestine National Covenant so that it no longer calls for an end to the state of Israel.
In the process, the Palestinians have allowed Syrian forces - the bulk of the Arab peacekeepers here - to attack with tanks and mortar the strongholds of the Palestinian "Rejection Front" organization composed of groups opposed to any settlement that allows for the continued existence of Israel.
While the PLO will agree to have talks with Jordanian officials, it does not promise that these talks will leads not promise that these talks will lead anywhere. The PLO-Jordanian talks - due to start next weeks when a delegation headed by Palestine Council President Khalid Al Fahoun goes to Amman - may end with a meeting between Husseing and PLO chief Yasser Arafat. This would be their first meeting since 1970.
"There will be talks," promise the PLO leader "but whether they result in anything I don't know."
Syria and Jordan already cooperate in many areas and are talking about a more formal confedaratin. But, one observer here said, the Syrian army can object since the Hussein revelations that all Syria's military secrets could be turned over by Jordan to the CIA, and then to Israel.
"Assad is in a very delicate situation when he has to explain this to his army - the base of his power in Syria," said one observer. "It's more embarrassing to him than the King Hussein" said another.