Israel will push ahead with negotiations on the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip even if King Hussein turns down a role for Jordan in the complex arrangements called for in the Camp David summit accords, Israeli officials said yesterday.
Responding to a declaration by President Carter that he has obtained written commitment from Egyptain President Anwar Sadat to "assume the Arab role" in the West Bank negotiations if Hussein continues to stay out of the talks, the Israeli sources said their government "will negotiate with whomever will negotiate with us.
The arrangement provides new production for the Egyptain-Israeli peace treaty that Sadat has promised to sign before Dec. 17 in exchange for a return of full sovereignty over the Sinai peninsula. Sadat and U.S. officials said separately in Washington last week that a lack of progress on the West Bank arrangements during that [WORD ILLEGIBLE] could threaten the atmosphere [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for the peace treaty.
Under the arrangement spelled out in a letter Sadat sent to Carter last week following the signing of the two "framework" agreements on peace in the Middle East, Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin can determine the rate of progress in setting up elections for an autonomous West Bank and Gaza Strip administrative council if Hussein continues to balk at accepting the Camp David out-come.
Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, who failed last week to get Jordan and Saudi Arabia to endorse Sadat's decision to sign the Camp David agreements, reported yesterday to Carter on his five-day trip.
Hussein declined an invitation from Carter to visit Washington for talks next month, but U.S. officials now indicate they expect him to agree to a Washington trip later this year.
Jordan ruled the West Bank, inhabited by 1.1 million Arabs, until the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel also captured the mandated territory of the Gaza Strip, then administered by Egypt, the Sinai and Syria's Golan Heights territory.
Sadat has said that Gaza should become part of a Jordanian-Palestinian entity rather than being returned to Egyptain control. Egypt's historical ties to Gaza, however, will evidently be evoked as a legal base for Sadat's negotiating with the Israelis on the fate of Palestinians, since he could assert that principles worked out for Gaza also should apply to the West Bank.
Under the Camp David accords, Jordan and Egypt are due to participate in initial negotiations with the Israelis on the West Bank that are intended to move in step with the final talks on the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The initial negotiations will set up elections for a self-governing Palestinian authority that will select a delegation to join the Egyptains, Jordanians and Israelis in a broader set of talks designed to resolve "the final status" of the West Bank and Gaza, which Begin has repeatedly said belong to Israel through Biblical right.
Both U.S. and Israeli officials believe that Jordan's participation is vital for the long-term negotiations, but expressed confidence yesterday that the talks on establishing election machinery could be successfully concluded even if Hussein continues to temporize on his role. Only an outright, final rejection before an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is signed would be a damaging blow to the Camp David accords, in this view.
The Israeli sources also told reporters that neither Egypt nor the United States brought any pressure on Begin during the summit to get the Palestine Liberation Organization into the negotiations growing out of the agreements.
The three leaders had worked out the accords with the mutual aim of avoiding a result that could open the way for an independent Palestinian state, according to the sources.