Prime Minister Menachem Begin informed the United States today that Israel will disqualify four European nations from joining the Sinai multinational peace-keeping force on the basis of their adherence to policies that "contradict" the Camp David accords.
In a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis, Begin denounced West European policy in the Middle East and said Israel will never countenance linkage between participation in the Sinai peace-keeping force and support for the involvement of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Middle East peace process, informed sources said.
While emphasizing that the Israeli Cabinet would debate and decide the issue on Sunday, the prime minister said he saw little chance of a reversal of his stand, sources said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir is due in Washington Friday on the initiative of Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., who hopes to persuade him to retain the Europeans, according to diplomatic sources. Details, Page A18.
Shamir told a five-member delegation of U.S. congressmen that he saw not even a remote chance that the Cabinet would accept participation in the multinational force by Britain, France, Holland and Italy, because of their reaffirmation on Monday of the June 1980 Venice Declaration calling for PLO involvement in the peace process.
Shamir was understood to have assured the congressional delegation that Israel will complete its withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula on April 25, even if the multinational force consists solely of U.S. troops.
Israel's position on European participation in the Sinai force is expected to make it difficult for the United States to assemble a broad-based peace-keeping contingent of 2,500 troops. Complicating the task is the reported unwillingness of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to participate without the involvement of Britain and the other European nations.
Officials in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv refused to comment tonight on Lewis' discussion with Begin, but other sources said the Israeli was adamant about rejecting the Europeans' participation in Sinai peace-keeping as long as they refused to withdraw or drastically modify their position as spelled out in supplementary statements released Monday along with their formal acceptance of invitations to send troops to the multinational force.
The four nations referred to Palestinian rights to self-determination and, specifically, to the necessity of involving the PLO in future peace negotiations. Begin and Shamir previously have warned that any statement that "contradicts" the Camp David peace accords, or alludes to peace initiatives that conflict or compete with Camp David, would disqualify the state in question from the force.
A source familiar with the content of the Begin-Lewis meeting today said the U.S. ambassador attempted to convince Begin to accept the original declarations of the four European nations -- a relatively innocuous statement that makes no mention of the PLO or Palestinian rights but merely states that participation will not exclude the countries from supporting "other international peace-keeping arrangements."
Lewis is understood to have argued that the remaining, and more offensive, documents could be treated as internal statements issued for the benefit of the respective parliaments.
"If he could have talked Begin into accepting the statements of the four, and not the rest, it would have worked. But it was not to be," a source said tonight.
Following a meeting earlier in the day with Shamir, Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.) quoted the foreign minister as saying there was no possibility that the Cabinet would accept the conditions presented by France, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands.
So far, only the United States, Fiji, Colombia and Uruguay have pledged to contribute troops and equipment to the Sinai force.
Begin's strong feelings on the European issue were reflected in an interview today with French television in which he bitterly attacked European Middle East policy and recalled the pre-World War II Munich pact with Nazi Germany.
"You know that West Europe once signed the pact called Munich, and they let Czechoslovakia disappear from the map. Now I suppose that some politicians in Europe wouldn't mind witnessing this again. But we mind, and, therefore, whatever Lord Carrington says doesn't at all interest me," Begin said.