The Wednesday resignation under fire of Andrew Young as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations drew bitter criticism yesterday from Arab and black African states, applause from the white minorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and expressions of suspicion about U.S. policy from Israel.

The Soviet Union and China joined Arab states in charging that Young's resignation was the result of Israeli "pressure" and that it showed Washington's inability to maintain a genuinely "balanced" approach to Middle East peacemaking, especially where Palestinian rights are concerned.

At the United Nations, diplomats expressed shock at Young's resignation and called it a blow to U.S. efforts to forge better links with the Third World. They said it makes virtually inevitable a U.N. showdown over Palestinian rights, which Young sought to avert.

His departure also appears to signal at least a temporary end to U.N. negotiations for a new Security Council resolution in which the PLO would recognize Israel's right to exist in return for an acknowledgement of Palestinian rights. Israel staunchly had opposed such a new resolution, which would have opened the way for an official U.S.-PLO dialogue.

Most nations did not appear to accept the explanation that Young's sin was not so much his having conferred with the Palestine Liberation Organization's observer at the United Nations as his having lied about the nature of the meeting.

At the least, his resignation has heightened Arab distrust of U.S. efforts to promote a Middle East settlement.

These reactions were reported from key world capitals:

In Cairo, an Egyptian government source close to President Anwar Sadat called the resignation a "major victory" for Israeli interests. The official said Young's departure would make it more difficult to draw Jordon and Saudi Arabia into the peace talks with Israel unless some kind of "balancing" gesture toward the Arabs comes out of Washington shortly.

The resignation was particularly ill-received by Egyptian officials because it seemed to them to confirm the conviction of hard-line Arab states that Washington is susceptible to Israeli influence in making any crucial Middle East decision.

This conviction sources said, is a key element in the refusal of such moderate Arab states as Jordon and Saudi Arabia to get involved in the U.S.-sponsored negotiations for Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Similarly, Palestinians outside the PLO, including West Bank leaders, have boycotted the talks largely because of lack of faith in U.S. promises that the limited autonomy being discussed could be expanded later into something closer to meeting their demands for statehood.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli officials shrugged off Young's resignation as none of their business, although it was Israeli's strong official protest of Young's meeting with the PLO representative that sparked the furor.

Israelis also expressed suspicion that the Carter administration would continue trying to establish relations with the PLO, despite a U.S. commitment to Israel not to deal with the PLO until it recognizes Israeli's right to exist.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Shiloh was quoted as saying that despite Young's resignation, "the concern existing two or three days ago is still with us."

Israeli officials stressed that in addition to Young, the U.S. ambassador to Austria, Milton Wolf, had conferred with a PLO official in Vienna.

Shiloh said Young's meeting with Zehdi Labib Terzi, the PLO's U.S. observer, showed a "a general tendency of developing a dialogue with the PLO."

In Amman, Jordanian Information Minister Adnan Abu Odeh said, "The pressures that brought about Mr. Young's resignation mean that the U.S. administration is still unable to assume a real balanced position on the Middle East question."

Abu Odeh blamed the "Israeli lobby" in the United States for Young's departure, which he said makes "the American administration look insincere and impotent about living up to its public position."

In Beirut, a PLO statement praised what it termed Young's courageous and principled stand on the Palestinian issues.

"The coercion of Andrew Young into resignation represents the ugliest form of mental terrorism and racist persecution that can be used against those who hold honorable views and positions," the statement said.

Yasse Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official, was quoted as saying, "The ruling circles in Washington still consider any casual meeting with the PLO as a crime."

Ike, an English-language Beirut newspaper, summed up Arab reaction in an editorial by saying, "After months of laboring under the impression that his boss lives in the White House, Andrew Young has belatedly discovered that the address of his leader is Tel Aviv."

In Salisbury, a government spokesman said, "Not many Zimbabwe-Rhodesians will shed any tears after the political demise of Andrew Young. He has in the past shown a complete lack of understanding for the problems of this country."

Black nationalist groups both inside and outside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia generally praised Young, saying he understood African aspirations far better than his predecessors.

In Johnnesburg, South African officials and pro-government newspapers echoed the sentiments of the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian spokesman, although there was no official government comment.

Black newspapers and spokesmen vigorously defended Young, expressing disappointment about his resignation combined with hope that he would bounce back in another role.

In Moscow, the Soviet news agency Tass charged that "outright blackmail" by Israel forced Young's resignation. "It is really humiliating for such a power as the United States to fire its diplomat on demand of another state," it added.

At United Nations headquarters in New York, Third World diplomats lamented Young's resignation and predicted a confrontation over a proposed new resolution recognizing Palestinian rights to self-determination -- diplomatic jargon for the right to establish an independent state.

Washington Post correspondents Edward Cody in Cairo, Jay Ross in Lusaka, Zambia, and Caryle Murphy in Johannesburg and special correspondent Rami G. Khouri in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this article.