Hussein: cordiality, yes; but Camp David, no
Both President Carter and King Hussein of Jordan are vitally interested in using the King's official visit to Washington this week to restore some of the former cordiality to the US-Jordan relationship.
Jordanian and US officials agree that the King's talks with Mr. Carter, Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and Defense Secretary Harold Brown June 17 and 18 are highly unlikely to persuade King Hussein to join the Camp David Mideast "peace process."
King Hussein has never regarded the Camp David framework as offering eithe Jordan or the Palestinians any concrete inducements. Instead he has long wanted to act as a spokesman for a consensus of Arab statesmen who seek a broad and lasting peace settlement with Israel -- but who reject what they regard as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's bilateral approach to that settlement. Hence he has moved toward solidarity with President Sadat's Arab critics.
President Carter, in a move interpreted by Mideast specialists here as directed to election campaign requirements for Jewish support, told invited Jewish editors he "would use all the persuasive power" he can muster to draw King Hussein into the process. But surprised Arab diplomats here doubted, in the words of one, "that the administration can be so foolish as to bring up a nonstarter like that again."
Jordanians say their position is "quite close" to the West European declaration of support, issued at the recent Venice conference, for associating the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) with Mideast peace negotiations. In a series of meetings with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders since 1977, King Hussein has moved closer to PLO positions on a future Palestinian state, which both the PLO and Jordanian side have said could be linked with Jordan.
King Hussein and Jordan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Sharaf, the King's key foreign policy adviser, are expected to make several main points in the talks here.
One is that Israeli use of land and water resources for new settlements on the West Bank, which Israel won from Jordan in 1967, has gone too far to be easily halted or reversed. US objections to the Israeli settlement process have been ignored by Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
The Jordanians also are likely to stress the dangers to peace of the volatile internal situation in Lebanon and in Jordan's Arab ally Syria.
But they see as especially dangerous the cycle of violence and repression in the West Bank. This has grown worse since last month's deportation of three West Bank leaders. Subsequently six Israelis were shot and killed in Hebron, and later two elected West Bank Arab mayors were maimed by car bombs.
Less heated US-Jordanian bilateral issues, such as military supplies and ongoing US aid to Jordan River valley agriculture and Jordanian industrial projects, "can be discussed constructively once we agree to continue disagreeing about Camp David," one US official said.
"The important thing is that the King and President Carter get back on the warm personal terms they were once," he went on. "Once that is done, many things become possible."
Ned Temko reports from Amman, Jordan:
"I am determined to go back to my homeland by the end of June," maimed West Bank Mayor Bassam Shaka is telling relatives at his Amman hospital bedside. "I want to show the [Israeli] military governor I am back. . . . I want to show what they did to my legs."
Jordanians and Palestinians seem united as never before in opposition to Israeli and American policies in the Middle East.
The presence in a Jordanian hospital of the hard-line Palestinian Mayor Shaka , who lost both legs in a May car bomb explosion in his occupied West Bank town of Nablus, has become a potent symbol of a rapprochement that seemed impossible before the US-sponsored Camp David agreements.
There are clear limits to the reconciliation. Only a decade ago, King Hussein turned his Bedouin army against Palestinian guerrillas who were making an increasingly open bid to neutralize or depose him. In that "black September" and the months that followed the King chased out the guerrillas. He is not about to let them back.
Arab and Western diplomats add that if and when Israel is ever persuaded to relinquish the West Bank, newfound Jordanian-Palestinian unity might be strained further over the question of who would predominate in subsequent negotiations.
Meanwhile, "Arafat and His Majesty have mutual interests," explained a senior adviser of King Hussein. "Arafat is closer in his interests to us than to any other Arab country. We both badly want a peaceful solution, but one which will include Palestinian rights, that is a real solution for the Middle East conflict. Camp David is not such a solution."