Menachem Begin's worst enemies -- militant Arabs and Palestinians -- are rooting for him to win next week's Israeli election because they believe his aggressively anti-Palestinian policies and his willingness to use military force against them intensify Arab opposition to the Jewish state.
This view emerged from more than a dozen interviews over the past month here, in Syria and in Jordan.
The interviews indicated that moderate Arabs feel there is little difference between Begin and his Labor Party opponent, Shimon Peres, in their refusals to negotiate with the Palestinians or to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state on Israel's borders.
But even Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, according to associates, believes the Palestinian cause would benefit more from the election of Begin than of Peres. Arafat was reported by three sources here this week to be telling friends that Begin is the Palestinian movement's greatest ally.
One Palestinian, echoing the radical Arab view that the governments of most of the Arab oil monarchies rest on shaky foundations and are ripe for overthrow, said another four years of Begin's harsh anti-Arab policies might bring about mass uprisings and the fall of some of those moderate Arab leaders.
Begin repeatedly has enraged the Arabs by his steadfast policies of encouraging Jewish settlements on the Arab West Bank; declaring all of Jerusalem, including the annexed eastern section, the undivided capital of Israel; attacking Palestinian camps in southern Lebanon and in effect taking part of that country as a buffer zone on Israel's northern border; bombing Iraq's nuclear installation and, most of all, remaining intransigent in his refusal to have any dealings with the PLO.
Despite their oil wealth and talk of a holy war against Israel, the Arab states have been too weak to respond militarily to Begin.
But his policies have served to check some of the divisive strains within the Arab world by giving it at least one unifying policy -- its opposition to Israel -- and to keep the PLO a key factor within it.
Palestinians feel a Peres government would erode their power. "Peres," said one, "is much smarter in dealing with the Arabs than Begin.
"Peres is smart enough to throw bait to the Arabs, to talk to different people.He says that the Syrian missiles are not a real threat to Israel. That hurts Syria. But when Begin says the missiles are important to Israeli security, it helps [Syrian President Hafez] Assad."
But militant Arabs, moderates and Palestinians alike emphasized that they see little difference between the policies of the two men.
A high Jordanian official in Amman said that for all Peres' appearances of accommodation the basic policy is still the same: no Palestinian state.
"That's why we prefer Begin. We know what we are dealing with there," he said.
A Palestinian official agreed. "I think that Begin is better for us," he said in his Beirut office, its outer walls pockmarked from barrages by Labanese Christians using Israeli-supplied heavy artillery.
"The problem for us is that Peres comes on with such an appealing look that he generates a high level of sympathy not just from Americans but from Arabs who should know better."
Another PLO official here said his organization fears that some of the moderate Arab states, anxious to join Egypt in making peace with Israel, "will melt" under Peres' smooth, sympathetic manner and agree to a deal that will leave the Palestinians out in the cold.
In his view four Arab states -- Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Oman -- already have made peace with Israel under Begin. "If Peres wins," he said, "we will have a whole second row of states aching to follow those four."
Included, he said, would be Saudi ARABIA, kuwait, Jordan and other Persian Gulf nations that follow Saudi policies.
There is a strong feeling among Palestinians and militant Arab states such as Libya that they have no chance of wresting a Palestinian state out of Israel unless the rulers of such states as Saudi Arabia are overthrown.
Nonetheless, Palestinians have no illusions that their life would be easy in the second term that most of them expect Begin to win in the June 30 election.
Other Arabs pointed out, however, that all the Middle East wars have been fought when Peres' Labor Party was in power while the last four years of Begin's rule have been marked by no major conflicts and the only full normalization of relations between an Arab nation -- Egypt -- and the Jewish state.