President Carter told 53 American Jewish leaders yesterday that a Middle East peace settlement should involve full diplomatic relations between the Arabs and Israel as well as extensive communications, trade and transportation.
He also said he has done nothing to encourage the idea of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan, saying it could be source of turmoil and terrorism, and left some participants at the White House session with the impression that he would use his influence to oppose such an arrangement.
The Jewish leaders who called the Cabinet Room meeting a fruitful and frank discussion, said their apprehensive about Carter's policies were reduced but not eliminated. Several took a "wait and see" attitude in view of the impending visit to Washington by the new Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin.
The session involving Vice President Mondale, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzenzinski as well as more than an hour of discussion with Carter, was a full-dress attempt to deal with an increasingly serious domestic aspect of Middle East diplomacy.
Israeli and some U. S. Jewish leaders have expressed disquiet over several months about Carter's outspoken drive for a comprehensive peace settlement. The concern has intensified sharply since the coming to power of Begin, whose uncompromising views have made a U. S.-Israeli confrontation seem increasingly likely.
In emphasizing the sweeping nature of the peace agreement he would like to see - and saying much less about the territorial compromises which Israel would have to accept in return - Carter was presenting that aspect of his Middle East ideas which is most palatable to a Jewish audience. Ten days ago, in a much-criticized declaration, the State Department emphasized territorial compromise and said little about the nature of a peace.
With reporters present for the start of his comments. Carter noted that it will not be easy for the Arabs to accept his view that a peace should involve "a commitment to have full diplomatic relations, an exchange of ambassadors, open communication and travel across national borders, trade commerce, tourism, cultural exchanges and free passage of transportation."
Less than a week ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was quoted by a Beirut magazine as saying in an interview that he had told Carter, "if we resurrected Jesus Christ and the Prophet Monammed together, they would not be able to persuade Moslem or Christian Arabs to open the borders with Israel after 29 years of hatred, four wars, rivers of blood and massacres."
Carter's reservations about an idependent Palestinian state, as relayed by participants in yesterday meeting, go beyond public statements by himself and other officials expressing a "preference" for a link or association between Jordan and a new Palestinian entity.
According to one account, Carter spoke of the danger that an independent Palestinian state could be influenced by Libya or the Soviet Union as a base of radicalism on Israel's borders. Another participant said, "Carter made it clear he doesn't want an independent Palestinian state." At the same time, several participants quoted Carter as saving he would not impose his views of this or other issues on the Arabs and Israelis who ultimately must negotiate a peace agreement.
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he had expressed to Carter concern that his words about features of a Middle East peace settlement were taken as a definite U. S. plan.
"The world isn't used to your open diplomacy...It stiffens the back of Israel and raises the expectations of the Arabs, which, once frustrated, will retard rather than speed peace if not bring disaster," Schindler said he had told Carter.
Schindler was preparing to fly to Israel last night to see Begin prior to the Israel leader's trip here beginning July 19. In the past two weeks, Schindler said, he has engaged in intensive discussions with Mondale. Vance and Brzenzinski as well as White House assistants Hamilton Jordan, Robert Lipshutz and Stuart Eizenstat, who also participated in yesterday's meeting.