Israeli government officials today sharply rejected a call by President Reagan for a "total freeze" on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a suggestion that the future of the Israeli-occupied territory be linked to Jordan.
Reagan's proposals were contained in a letter to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who interrupted his vacation in the coastal resort city of Nahariyya to attend a special Cabinet meeting that he scheduled for Thursday.
The letter was received here yesterday and its contents were partially leaked on Israel's state radio before President Reagan's Wednesday night speech.
A preview of the Cabinet's expected response was provided in a speech tonight to the Women's Zionist Organization of America by Eliahu Ben-Elissar, the chairman of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee and a close political associate of Begin.
"We are being advised to depart from the Camp David accords," Ben-Elissar declared. "We shall not do that, we cannot do that and we do not even understand how we can be asked to do that."
Ben-Elissar said Jordan had no claim to the occupied territories, which he referred to as "provinces" of Israel.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in a speech before veterans of the Jewish underground movement against British rule in Palestine, was equally adamant. He said: "The decisive majority of the nation has vowed never to part with Judea, Samaria (Israel's names for the West Bank) and the Gaza District and never to give up our natural and sacred right to settle and live in all parts of the homeland," United Press International reported.
However, Israeli television quoted unidentified members of the opposition Labor Party as hailing Reagan's proposals as a "breakthrough" because it supported Labor's longtime advocacy of a Jordanian link with the occupied territories, The Associated Press reported.
Officials of Begin's government strongly reiterated the theme that Israel will not consider any new American suggestions that it sees as differing from the proposed interim five-year period of autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza as set out in the Camp David accords.
"At this stage, the only thing to be discussed is autonomy, as far as we are concerned," one official said. He added that the president's proposals were viewed as "a deviation from Camp David. This linkage with Jordan is not in Camp David; the settlements are not in Camp David."
The reports of the Reagan message overshadowed the arrival in Israel late today of Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, who flew here from Beirut after visiting the U.S. Marine contingent that is part of the multinational force supervising the evacuation of the Palestinian guerrillas.
The president's letter appeared to be timed to coincide with Weinberger's visit here and is likely to dominate the defense secretary's discussions with Israeli officials.
Two hundred persons demonstrated in front of the hotel in Tel Aviv where Weinberger was staying to protest the contents of the letter from Reagan, AP reported.
Reagan's message, delivered to Begin yesterday in Nahariyya by U.S. Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis, was the first concrete indication of possible shifts in administration policy in the wake of the war in Lebanon. The prime minister's decision to cut short his vacation and call the special Cabinet meeting suggested the seriousness with which he viewed possible changes in the American approach, which the Israelis have feared and sought to preempt through their own aggressive post-Beirut diplomacy.
Ever since the agreement was reached for the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organization forces from Beirut, the Begin government -- anticipating American moves on the Palestinian question -- has been stressing its desire to resume the autonomy talks and its adamant opposition to any other approach to the issue.
The strongest such statement came during a Cabinet meeting Aug. 22 at which Begin declared that "there will be no negotiations on any proposal whatsoever which deviates from the framework for peace established at Camp David." Israel's position, he said, is that only the Camp David plan is a subject for negotiations now, and that all other suggestions should be put off until an autonomy agreement is implemented.
The Camp David peace accords call for negotiations among Israel, Egypt and the United States to establish a five-year period of autonomy for the 1.3 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During this interim period, there are to be further negotiations on the final status of the territories.
In earlier autonomy talks, broken off since last spring, the Begin government has offered a limited form of local autonomy and made clear that it will claim a right of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank after the five years.
The Palestinians of the West Bank have refused to participate in the autonomy talks. They charge that by expanding Jewish settlements and increasing the power of the Israeli-supported Arab village leagues in the West Bank the Begin government plans to impose its own version of autonomy as well as Israeli sovereignty on the territory.
By raising the question of the settlements, the president signaled a sharp departure in administration policy since this summer's Israeli invasion of Lebanon. While former president Carter condemned the settlements as illegal and frequently described their expansion under Begin as a major obstacle to a peace agreement, Reagan said early in his term that he did not consider the settlements illegal.
The Begin government approved in early August the establishment of four new settlements in the West Bank--which, at 2,270 square miles, is slightly larger than Delaware.
The additions would bring the total number of actual Jewish settlements to about 100, more than double the number when Begin became prime minister in 1977. One of the largest of the newer settlements in the West Bank was officially dedicated today by government officials.
In addition, this summer Begin's coalition absorbed a small ultranationalist party with a promise to expand settlement activity. Yuval Neeman, a leader of the party who was named a Cabinet minister in the deal, reacted bluntly to news of the American call.
"This is a situation we have been expecting," he said. "We think there is only one answer to this -- massive new settlements" and the de facto Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
Despite many suggestions in the past by the Labor Party that the West Bank ultimately should become a Palestinian entity somehow linked to Jordan, Begin's Likud Bloc has always rejected such ideas. It argues that they could lead to an independent Palestinian state on land Begin considers as historically belonging to the Jews.