Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's agreements with Israel deepened the split in the Arab World, provoking sharp criticism yesterday from Syria and the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the resignation of Sadat's foreign minister.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia, two Arab countries that hold the key to the success of the agreements, remained silent.
The angry but predictable response of Syria and the PLO is unlikely to deter Sadat. The Egyptian leader's problem now lies more in convincing the Saudis and other moderate Arabs that he did not make a separate peace with Israel, as he swore he would not do, but fought to extract the best possible deal for the Palestinians.
Jordan's King Hussein cut short a vacation in Spain to return to Amman last night amid reports that there is considerable skepticism among Jordanian officials about the commitments Israel may have made in the agreement. Hussein met with his advisers last night and scheduled an extraordinary cabinet meeting under his leadership for today.
There was no official Saudi reaction yesterday but the Jeddah-based Arab News, an English-language daily that rarely strays from official thinking, charged in an editorial that the Israeli concessions did not go far enough.
The most militant opponents of Sadat's policy - Syria, Algeria, Libya, South Yemen and the PLO - are to hold a summit conference in Damascus tomorrow to chart their next moves.
While much of the reaction yesterday was expected, the disclosure of the resignation of Foreign Minister Ibrahim Kamel who was part of Egyptian negotiating delegation at Camp David came as a surprise.
Kamel, a close friend of Sadat, resigned Friday, according to Egyptian sources, because of a "difference of opinion" with Sadat over the agreements.
Last November, Kamel's predecessor, Ismail Fahmi, resigned to protest Sadat's trip to Jerusalem, which opened the current 10 months of peace-seeking. Unlike Fahmi, Kamel, who is returning to Cairo with Sadat, is not expected to publicly attack the Egyptian policy.
In Cairo, much of the Egyptian bureaucracy was caught off guard by the agreements, some stunned and others perplexed, but Egyptians generally welcomed the news.
The Camp David agreements are likely to be strongly supported by the Egyptian people, whose longing for peace was demonstrated by their enthusiastic response to the Jerusalem trip and to whom consideration of pan. Arab policy or the Palestinian issue are generally meaningless.
Meanwhile, the immediate prospect in the Arab world outside of Egypt is for a period of tension and anxiety that will put Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a very uncomfortable position.
The Damascus newspaper Al Baath, organ of the ruling party, said yesterday that the Damascus summit would be the "decisive and strong reply to the Camp David results." But even with the diplomatic support of the Soviet Union, which yesterday denounced the accords, the rejectionist countries by themselves have little leverage over Egypt.
They may be able to put enough pressure on Hussein to keep him out of the negotiations, but they are a threat to Egypt only if they can pursuade the Saudis to turn against Sadat.
An official statement released by the Syrians in Damascus yesterday said that "the documents signed by the head of the Egyptian regime at Camp David are a stab in the heart of the Arab nations and a flagrant deviation from the common Arab strategy, a contradiction of Arab of Palestinian rights."
Khaled Fahoum, the pro-Syrian chairman of the Palestine National Council, the PLO's parliament-in-exile, who lives in Damascus, was quoted as saying the agreements were "a total capitulation to the Israeli enemy and a full surrender to the will of the White House. What Sadat has done at Camp David is a separate peace, which we consider an abandonment of the Palestinian and Arab struggles."
Here is Beirut, officials of the PLO spoke out quickly and strongly against the agreements and said they would go on with their armed struggle against Israel.
"It's true there can be no war without Egypt," one of them said, "but there can be no peace without the PLO."
One official said the five-year transition period leading to the end of Israeli military rule over the West Bank was only "a legalization of the Israeli occupation." He claimed Israel would use the period to cement its political control over the territory. But the Palestinians generally criticized the accords as much for what they left out as for what they contained.
The most important omission, they said, is of any provision for the return of the millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps here, in Syria, and in Jordan and scattered around the Arab world. These Palestinians, who have not been accepted by any Arab country and do not want to be permanently resettled outside Palestine, will remain a source of friction, especially here in Lebanon.
By leaving the question of eventual sovereignity over the West Bank open and by proposing an eventual peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, the Palestinians argued, the Camp David accords skirted the very issue that was actually at the core of the problem. By omitting any mention of the plo, they said, the accords have a built-in formula for failure.
Israel refuses to have any dealings with the plo on the ground that it is an organization of terrorists. But at a summit conference in Rabat in 1974, the Arabs all agreed that the plo was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people." Who among the Palestinians of the West Bank, plo officials here asked, is going to dare to take part in negotiations with Israel without a mandate from the PLO?
As if in response, several West Bank mayors who have aligned themselves with the PLO came out quickly in opposition to the agreements.
Diplomatic observers here agreed that his is not a trival consideration - the success of the agreements hinges on negotiations among Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, but there is no assurance that either Jordan or any Palestinians are going to take part in any talks arranged for them by Sadat.
The Egyptian president has said from the beginning that was not his problem. He has argued that he could not negotiate detailed agreements on behalf of the Palestinians and Jordan, he could only set up a format in which those negotiations would be possible. Having dope that, he has said, he could then go ahead to peace with Israel, which is what he may now be in a position to do.
King Hussein of Jordan, who rules a country with a large Palestinian population and who has close ties to Syria, must now decide whether to accept the invitation extended to him at Camp David to take part in determining the future of the West Bank that was once part of his kingdom or let the opportunity pass, perhaps forever.
The Saudis, who provide Sadat with the financial assistance that keeps Egypt float, also have good relations with Syria and a record of support for the Palestinians.
Anticipating failure at Camp David, they were maneuvering behind the scenes to bring about a reconciliation between Egypt and Syria that might have ended the split in Arab caused by Sadat's initiative.
Whether their strategic links to the United States and their support for Sadat's anticommunist policies will lead them to open support of the Egyptian leader now when he needs it most is an open question.
Sadat promised publicly last year that once he had reached an agreement "in principle" with Israel that would get the Israeli army out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, he would submit it to an Arab Summit conference for ratification.
But with the initial Arab response ranging from cool caution to outright hostility, and with his critics charging that he failed to achieve that negotiating objective, he may not be able to keep that promise. If he does not, he will further expose himself to charges that he made a separate peace or a bilateral deal that benefits only Egypt.
Over the past week, there had arisen a general expectation throughout the Arab world that the Camp David talks would end either in outright failure or in thinly-disgised failure, which in either case would force Sadat back into the Arab fold and perhaps mean a return to the old Geneva conference negotiating format. That was a format that the Egyptians viewed as sterile, but other countries, even Syria, were more comfortable with it.
The surprising breakthrough at Camp David, announced just before dawn here, was not greeted with unrestrained joy.
Aside from the Predictable outrage of the Syria and the PLO, there were reservations and doubts in many other captials.
In Kuwait, the cabinet is to hold an emergency meeting today to decide how to respond.
The Kuwaitis, like the Saudis, provide indispensible financial assistance to both Egypt and Syria and have been uncomfortable over the split between them.
In Abu Dhabi, the semi-official newspaper Al Ittihad said the Camp David results were "negative" because Israel did not commit itself to allowing the Palestinian refugees to return or to restoring East Jerusalem to Arab control.
Here in Lebanon, Officials of the embattled Christian parties expressed disappointment that the agreements apparently do nothing about removing the big Palestinian refugee and guerrilla community here, which the Christians regard as the principal cause of the devastation of he country.
Iraq, which stayed out of the front opposing Sadat because it was not militant enough for Iraqi tastes and because Iraq is at odds with Syria, is not expected to attend the Damascus summit. But the Iraqi news agency quoted visiting South Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Nasser Mohammed as saying the two countries were linked by "bonds of brotherhood, and by the joint struggle against the Zionist, reactionary and imperialist enemy."
For Egypt, those are all tertiary considerations.
Sadat is within arms reach of getting exactly what he wanted - a negotiated peace with Israel that leaves him closely tied to the United States and excludes the Soviet Union from the entire process. This has been the direction of his policy since shortly after the 1973 war, when he signed the first Sinai disengagement agreement negotiated in the shuttle diplomacy of then secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Then, too, he brushed aside the frantic objections of Syria and the PLO.
An official Jordanian reaction to the Camp David results is not expected for another day or two, but there is already considerable skepticism among Jordanian officials about the precise commitments that Israel may have agreed to make about a full withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In one of the first reactions here from unofficial sources, the Jordanian Press Association strongly attacked the Camp David agreements and accused Egypt of abandoning Palestingian rights and ending all hopes of restoring Arab unity.
The press association, which includes many of Jordan's mot prominent and influential figures, called on the Arab world to stand firmly against the Camp David agreements.
Factors in the agreements that discourage Jordanian participation in negotiations include the absence of a commitment to return Arab sovereignty to East Jerusalem, the continuation of an Israeli military presence for five years in the West Bank and Gaza, the imprecision of how far Israel will withdraw in those two areas, the absence of any mention of the status of the occupied Golan Heights of Syria and the obscure nature of how the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank will determine their own future.
There is also no mention of the rights or role of the 2 million Palestinians outside the occupied areas, a fact that waters down Jordan's potential enthusiasm about the seriousness of the Camp David accords in allowing real self-determination for the Palestinians.
On the positive side, in the Jordanian view, the Israeli agreement in principle to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza and to allow the Palestinians there to develop a system of full autonomy in five years goes part of the way to meeting stated Jordanian calls for a full Israeli territorial withdrawal and activation of a process of Palestinian self-determination.
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Menachem Begin's recent statements that an Israeli military presence will be maintained in the West Bank and Gaza, even after the transitional period of five years, and his increasingly hardline attitude on the settlements in public statements yesterday have led Young Turks at the Foreign Ministry to express despair privately.
"Kamel is a hard working technorat with an unblemished record," said one of his aides. "When he salvaged the government by becoming foreign minister on the eve of the Knesset trip (after the resignation of then foreign minister Ismail Fahmi) some friends advised him that this wasn't wise. He doesn't want to be remembered by history as the man who drafted a bilateral agreement, abandoning the other Arabs along the way."
The man-on-the-street reaction here to Camp David is so downbeat it almost doesn't exist.
Full by government-inspired pessimism, which dominated the weekend press, Egyptians went to bed Sunday prepared for a failure of the talks. They are now devouring every detail in extra editions of the papers.
The entire Egyptian propaganda apparatus has had to abruptly change gears, as evidence by the influential Al Ahram, which came out with six special issues yesterday, all increasingly optimistic.
But there is no jubilation, no dancing in the streets.
Among pundits there are already some signs of discomfort.
A leading Western expert on the radical rightist Moslem Brotherhood said that the organization's preliminary reaction is that it does not accept the accords. It is said to believe that Sadat's compromise is too explicit, and that there is no guarantee of a return of Jerusalem and the holy places.