President Carter warned America's European allies yesterday that the United States will veto any attempt by them to push a resolution supporting Palestinian "self-determination" through the United Nations Security Council.
Carter's warning -- the first time he has explicitly committed himself to a veto -- came a day after French Foreign Minister Jean Francois-Poncet said that, despite U.S. objections, the nine members of the European Economic Community are likely "in the weeks ahead" to take an initiative supporting Palestinian aspirations.
In an interview yesterday for the opening of the new Cable News Network, Carter reiterated U.S. concern that such a move could do serious damage to the U.S.-negotiated Egyptian-Israeli negotiations on Palestinian autonomy being conducted within the framework of the Camp David accords.
Referring to the possibility that the Europeans will choose a Security Council resolution as the vehicle for their initiative, the president added:
"We have a veto power that we can exercise, if necessary, to prevent this Camp David process from being destroyed or subverted, and I would not hesitate to use it if necessary."
The possibility of a clash that would put the United States and the West Europeans on opposite sides of the Mideast conflict has been aggravated greatly by the failure of the autonomy talks to meet last Monday's target date for completion.
The talks went past that date without producing agreement on any of the major issues involved in creating a limited, self-government system for the Palestinian inhabitants of Israeli-occupied terroitories. At present, they are in suspension between Israel and Egypt about the status of Jerusalem and its place in the negotiations.
In the meantime, the nine EEC countries, led by France and Britain, have become increasingly concerned that the Arab world's impatience with the Camp David process could take on an anti-Western cast that would jeopardize their Middle East oil supplies.
Despite strenuous U.S. efforts to dissuade them, the Europeans have been moving toward a joint initiative aimed at placating the Arab countries by supporting the principle of Palestinian self-determination and the right of the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the peace process in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel's security.
Reiterating his administration's strong hostility to that idea, Carter said, "We are asking the European allies not to get involved in the negotiations for the time being.
While he added that "I can't control them," the president did say: "I don't believe that the Europeans will make any move within the next couple of weeks."
EEC leaders will meet in Venice on June 11 and 12, and Francois-Poncet, in a news conference here Friday, said they will use the occasion to discuss what action to take on the Middle East. However, as Carter noted, he will go to Venice on June 22 for an economic summit that will include the four largest EEC members -- Britain, France, West Germany and Italy -- and there is little likelihood the Europeans will make any moves before then.
Referring to the current paralysis in the autonomy talks, Carter said, "My prediction to you is that without very much delay we will be back at the negotiating table, making progress again toward the Mideast peace . . ."
He did not elaborate. But senior administration officials said Carter's special Mideast negotiator, Sol M. Linowitz, is working on proposals designed to remove the stumbling block posed by Jerusalem and get active negotiations going again.
Jerusalem technically is not a subject of the autonomy talks, which are supposed to deal with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, an Egyptian demand that Arab residents of East Jerusalem have the right to vote for the self-governing authority on the adjoining West Bank has run up against Israeli concern that such a move would compromise Israel's claim that an undivided Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state.
The situation has been complicated further by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's anger over a bill pending in the Israeli parliament reasserting that claim and by complex government reshuffles under way in Israel and Egypt that have made both sides especially unyeilding on the Jerusalem question.
U.S. officials said Linowitz is working on a formula that will allow Israel and Egypt to reserve their negotiating positions about Jerusalem while resuming negotiations on other aspects of the autonomy accord. Although the officials refused to give specifics, they echoed Carter's optimism that Linowitz's efforts will succeed and said the hope is that the talks will resume within a week or two.