King Hassan of Morocco said today that the goal of the eight-point peace plan adopted by Arab leaders here yesterday was to reach a "state of nonbelligerency" with Israel as a first step toward the eventual normalization of relations between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors.
"If we can achieve this result, we will have made an enormous step forward" toward a lasting peace in the region, he said.
Hailing the results of the Arab League summit at a press conference here, Hassan said the Arab world had turned "a new page" in its history and appealed to Israel to respond positively.
He also said he hoped the Arab plan would serve as "a bridge" between the Arab world and the United States, opening a dialogue between the two on the terms of a Middle East settlement.
The plan, a revision of one submitted by Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to an unsuccessful Arab summit here last November, contains for the first time an implicit offer of recognition of Israel by the Arab nations. It also calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital and recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinian people.
It marks the first time since the creation of Israel 34 years ago that the Arab nations have come forward with a set of proposals for living in peace with the Jewish state. They were adopted by the PLO and 20 other members of the Arab League taking part in the meeting here. Libya and Egypt were absent.
The plan calls on the U.N. Security Council to guarantee peace "among all states of the region, including the independent Palestinian state."
Asked whether this meant Arab recognition of Israel as well, Hassan made a distinction between a state of peace and the normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states involving formal diplomatic recognition, an exchange of ambassadors and the opening of trade and other ties.
"For the time being we have given ourselves the task of reaching a state of nonbelligerency," he explained, adding that he "of course" meant Israel within the borders it had before it occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Hassan appealed to the world, "even to Israel," to realize that the Arab world, "without renouncing its rights, nor to other ways and means of reaching them, has decided to open a new page of history" in seeking a peaceful settlement.
In effect, the peace proposal adopted last night by the Arab leaders gives a ringing endorsement to the PLO following what much of the Arab world describes as its historic and successful struggle against Israeli forces in Lebanon.
The first draft contained no mention of the PLO as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinian people and did not say that the exercise of Palestinian self-determination should take place only under PLO auspices.
The decision to include this language in the proposal and the presence of PLO leader Yasser Arafat in a committee chosen to explain the peace plan to the United States and European governments appeared to be one means the Arab leaders intend to use to gain international recognition of the PLO.
Hassan warned that if Israel did not heed the Arab appeal following the war in Lebanon, the world would "reap the seeds of what Israel has sown" there. He charged that Israel had "killed the souls of thousands of children" in its invasion of Lebanon.
Hassan also announced that Iraq's president Saddam Hussein and Syrian leader Hafez Assad had agreed to meet "in a month or two" in the presence of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to settle their long and bitter feud.
The two men head rival wings of the Arab Socialist Baath party and their governments have been virtually at war for many years.
Hassan, appearing relaxed and satisfied with the results of the summit, said it had been decided to set up a committee of seven Arab leaders, including Arafat, to take the plan adopted here to Washington and European and East Bloc capitals for further discussion.
He said he foresaw no problem if President Reagan did not want to receive Arafat, saying, "We can enter six instead of seven into the White House."
The U.S. government has refused to deal with the PLO until it recognizes the state of Israel and foreswears the use of terrorism in its struggle for an independent Palestinian state.
Hassan did not name the seven members of the committee but they are believed to be the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia as well as Arafat and the Arab League Secretary General Chadli Klibi.
The king also explained why the summit had decided to appeal to the U.N. Security Council to guarantee peace in the region, saying that the Arab leaders wanted to gain the backing of the five permanent members -- United States, Soviet Union, China, France and Britain -- for the implementation of the Arab peace plan.
In answering another question, Hassan said the Arab world was no longer counting principally upon economic or military threats against the West, notably the United States, to gain the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories, saying it would use "other means of pressure than economic blackmail."
He was apparently referring to diplomatic means and the mobilization of wide international support, principally from the United States, for its peace initiative as a way of putting pressure on Israel to relinquish its hold on the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip.