King Hussein of Jordan said yesterday the Camp David proposals for Jordanian participation in peace negotiations are unacceptable "in the present form." He openly questioned American commitment to an over-all Middle East peace settlement.
Addressing his first news conference since the Camp David talks, the Arab world's most successful political survivor said "Jordan will not close any door" on a role involving a comprehensive peace settlement. He said talks on such a settlement would have to include Arab Jersusalem, Palestinian rights, Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land and Jewish settlements there.
But the whole weight of his more than an hour-long performance was one of resigned dismay at Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's apparent willingness to sign a separate peace treaty with Israel. If Sadat goes ahead with a separate peace, Hussein said, "obviously there will be very serious repercussions" which would be "far-reaching."
"I am very worried," he said, and "absolutely shattered" by Sadat's goit-alone diplomacy.
The monarch expressed a similar, though muted, concern with the United States, his major supporter over 26 years on the throne.
"My main concern now is with the United States," he said. "I would like to know if the U.S. position has altered, eroded or changed."
Hussein disclosed that President Carter, after the Camp David talks, had invited him to Washington in mid-October. But, he added "unfortunately" the timing was "not suitable in terms of my previous engagments." Left diplomatically unsaid was that the king, who termed himself "no stranger to pressure," was not about to put himself in a position that could be seen as that of a recalcitrant vassal being summoned to account from the far reaches of empire.
In questioning whether the United States still was interested in a comprehensive settlement, the king said, "It would help us make up our minds."
Underlining his concern by insisting now was the "most sensitive and serious moment" of his reign, the king made it clear that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had answered only "some of our questions" during his two-day visit here earlier in the week.
Although he expressed appreciation for Carter's "personal efforts," the king underlined the seriousness of the gap separating Amman and Washington by saying: "We will maintain a dialogue with the United States in order to find a common basis of cooperation." In other words, no such basis now exists.
[Carter said Hussein's stand may limit progress on the Palestinian question but would not block further progress toward a Middle East peace settlement. In a citizen's town meeting in Alequippa, Pa., Carter said that "in the absence of willingness of the Palestinians themselves . . . or King Hussein to negotiate further . . . the progress we can make will be limited."]
["But," he continued, "President Sadat has committed himself to me in writing . . . that in the absence of cooperation or participation by . . . King Hussein, he himself will continue the negotiations, not just on the Sinai . . . but also . . . concerning the West Bank and Gaza Strip area."]
[Hussein's comments appeared to come as a surprise to the official White House party, and Carter aides were cautious in offering any interpretation of the development.]
The king further questioned American seriousness by stating that at no time during the 13-day Camp David negotiations had the U.S. government kept him informed. Sadat called once, but at an early and inconclusive stage of the talks, he added.
Although the king did not mention it, many Jordanians are convinced that the lack of communication is indicative of an American desire to anub the king.
The American motive, it is said, is to encourage Sadat to conclude a separate peace with Israel on the Sinai by insuring that the king could not possibly agree to the Camp David formula for West Bank negotiations.
All but lost in the palace behind an enormous desk and a high-backed red velvet chair bearing a brass replica of the crown, the king noted that the Camp David agreements contained a "lot of vagueness (which) needs to be cleared up."
Somewhat forlornly, he noted that Jordan was not morally or illegally bound by the Camp David agreements made without its knowledge. He complained that the documents contained many statements [which are] contradictory and some quite discouraging."
"We will not rush into any decisions," the king said. "We do not want to go [into things] with our eyes closed."
Jordan is "trying to feel its way through the maze of statements," he said, since "we have to ask very definite and clear questions."
While "interested in exactly what the end results would be," he said, "we will not bargain on Palestinian rights" or on East Jerusalem, "important not only to us, but to all the Arab and Moslem world."
"To be frank and honest," he told a questioner, "I was certainly surprised and taken aback by recent developments."
He noted "Egypt's moral responsibility" to pan-Arab aspirations and recalled how it was an Egyptian-commanded Arab army that in 1967 lost Jordan's West Bank and Syria's Golan Heights as well as Egypt's own Sinai.
Explaining his own devotion to the Arab nation and pan-Arabism, the king said, "When I look back I recall hearing from the leaders of Egypt that they were for a comprehensive settlement. I am absolutely shattered."
Asked about his future relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose once-banished leader Yasser Arafat Friday paid his first visit to the king in Jordan in eight years, Hussein said, "Any future relationship will have to be based on solid foundations avoiding the mistakes of the past."
That was a reference to the bloody civil war which in 1970 and 1971 saw the guerrillas attempting unsuccessfully to overthrow the king.