U.S. special envoy Philip C. Habib, armed with a new concession from Syria to withdraw its forces from besieged West Beirut in conjunction with the evacuation of the Palestinian guerrillas there, flew to Jerusalem tonight seeking final agreement on the withdrawal.
With the battered city relatively peaceful for a second straight day, sources close to Habib expressed guarded optimism that the U.S. envoy would be able to overcome the last lingering obstacles to an accord.
But Habib returned to Israel with two major issues still unresolved. Lebanese Moslem and Palestinian leaders said the Palestine Liberation Organization was unwilling to make any more concessions on Israeli demands for a complete roster of names and destinations of all evacuees and was sticking to its demand that international troops be deployed simultaneously with the start of the withhdrawal.
An Israeli military spokesman accused the guerrillas of violating the cease-fire Saturday night, charging that Palestinians in the Burj al Barajinah refugee camp south of the city directed small-arms fire at Israeli positions. There were no reported casualties.
Earlier in the day, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon told a radio interviewer that he had informed Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and then-secretary of state Alexander M. Haig Jr. 10 days before the June 6 Israeli invasion that Israel "must act in Lebanon," Washington Post correspondent Edward Walsh reported from Jerusalem. A spokesman for Weinberger in Washington called Sharon's statement "untrue."
The PLO on Friday transmitted to Habib a list of 7,100 evacuees, broken down to include the numbers going to each of the eight Arab nations that have agreed to receive them.
The list was augmented today by another 5,000 when Lebanese Gen. Sami Khatib, commander of the mostly Syrian Arab peace-keeping force in Beirut, returned from Damascus with a commitment from Syrian President Hafez Assad that Syria's 1,500-man 85th Brigade, which is still in Beirut, would withdraw along with the 3,500-man force of the Syrian-controlled Palestine Liberation Army.
The Syrian commitment, transmitted by Lebanese President Elias Sarkis today to Habib for relay to Jerusalem, brings to about 12,000 the total number of fighters to be evacuated.
But the PLO has insisted that it will not turn over the names, passport or identity card numbers and military units to which they belong as the Israelis demanded, according to PLO sources. Besides the logistical difficulties of compiling the list, PLO officials fear that giving the Israelis the information could endanger the identified fighters in the future.
"If Israel objects to this Habib's plan ," said former prime minister Saeb Salam, Habib's intermediary with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, "the Israelis don't really want a peaceful solution at all."
While the Israeli Cabinet last Wednesday approved the Habib plan "in principle," Prime Minister Menachem Begin outlined several conditions. Besides the detailed roster, Israeli also insisted that a majority of the guerrillas withdraw before the arrival of the international force that is supposed to oversee the evacuation.
The original Habib proposal, agreed to more than a week ago by Palestinian and Lebanese government leaders, called for an international force of 2,000 troops to begin deployment in Beirut "simultaneously" with, or at least on the same day as, withdrawal of the first PLO fighters from the capital. The plan also called for the PLO to provide only the number, not the names, of its fighters.
Habib, in three days of talks with Sarkis and Prime Minister Shafiq Wazzan and in contacts with the PLO leadership conducted through Wazzan, apparently has failed to narrow the gap between the parties.
"We have given enough and we will not accept anything less than simultaneous entry and departure," Abou Iyad, Arafat's deputy, told reporters as he surveyed the scene of destruction from last Thursday's Israeli aerial assault on the city. "If the United States of America is not capable of protecting a cease-fire here how can our freedom fighters believe it is capable of protecting a peaceful political solution?"
Originally the Habib plan called for the token arrival of 350 French paratroopers on the day the evacuation was to begin.
Israel, however, has insisted that a majority of the guerrillas leave before international troops arrive and that the French not be the first contingent. Relations between Israel and France have been cool since the Lebanon invasion began.
Lebanese and Palestinian sources here said that Habib could offer to substitute Italian troops for the French as the vanguard unit, but insisted that the Israelis back down on their demand that at least half the guerrillas leave before the soldiers arrive.
Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa took advantage of today's lull to lead 37 crippled and retarded children out of West Beirut through Palestinian and Israeli lines. The children, who had been patients at a mental hopsital hit and heavily damaged by Israeli bombs, were taken to a convent run by her Missionaries of Charity in the hills east of the city.
The Israeli military command reported that a car bomb in the occupied town of Bhamdoun wounded three Israeli soldiers and five Lebanese civilians, Associated Press reported from Tel Aviv. No one claimed responsibility for the bomb.
Correspondent Walsh added the following:
Sharon's statement that he had informed Weinberger and Haig in advance of Israel's invasion plans met with a strong denial from Weinberger. He said through a spokesman that while Sharon had met with him in Washington and had briefed him on "the security situation as Mr. Sharon saw it, at no time did the Israeli defense minister say or allude to the fact that Israel had plans to invade Lebanon."
Spokesmen for the White House and the State Department had no comment on Sharon's statement, made in an interview with Israeli state radio.
Sharon also told the interviewer that the 10-hour Israeli air attack on Beirut last Thursday was aimed at destroying PLO headquarters in the city and killing Palestinian commanders. He said the raid was also designed to provide protection to Israeli forces who had been under fire from the Palestinians in the Beirut area, and to keep pressure on the PLO.
The defense minister, chief architect of the Lebanon invasion, also said Israel had no reason to fear last week's threat from President Reagan to call off the Habib negotiations because of the massive air bombardment. The United States has too large an interest in the success of the Habib mission to carry out such a threat, Sharon said.
Sharon, sounding unrepentant in the face of the criticism that Thursday's air attack had provoked, said he had no intention of resigning, as some of his critics have suggested.