Anxiety about future draws Israelis together
Israelis are suddenly united in their anxieties about the future of Middle East peace. * ''No, I wasn't moved when Sadat came to Jerusalem,'' snaps the Israeli settler on the occupied West Bank. ''I was worried. . . .
''This treaty with Egypt is dangerous, very dangerous. . . . I am sure of it, '' he goes on, stabbing at the air for emphasis. ''When Sadat insisted on getting the Sinai back in one or two years, that was a sign of his insincerity.''
* A few dozen miles west, in Tel Aviv, an Israeli student says he welcomes peace with Egypt, then promptly adds:
''I hate to say this, but I think Sadat's assassination was a good thing for Israel. . . . It gives us a chance to test the treaty, to test Egypt, before it's too late.''
* The English-language newspaper Jerusalem Post, which has in the past accused Prime Minister Menachem Begin of undermining the Mideast peace process, now suggests Israel should perhaps delay the scheduled final withdrawal from Egypt's Sinai unless assured that the United States sees the 1978 Camp David accords as the sole means for resolving the Palestinian issue.
* An opinion poll published in another Israeli newspaper says more than half the respondents assumed Sadat's successor, Hosni Mubarak, would fulfill the terms of the peace treaty with Israel - but that fewer felt comfortable about handing back the Sinai on time.
Anwar Sadat is gone. His successor, though publicly committed to peace with Israel, is making noises about rapprochement with fellow Arabs. The US is saying nice things about a Saudi peace plan that, though hinting at acceptance of Israel, also calls for a Palestinian state.
Israelis who never fully trusted the Sadat peace process - and even those who did - are being brought together by their jitters about the future.
On the Palestinian issue, the results of the nationwide unease are not fully clear. Some Israelis seem to think their country should soften its position on Palestinian self-rule to give fresh momentum to the negotiating process that flowed from the late Mr. Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977. Others, including government officials, appear to think that movement in the Palestinian autonomy talks is desirable - as long as it doesn't entail Israeli concessions on major issues.
But when it comes to Egypt, the clear effect of Sadat's assassination has been to encourage uneasiness over returning the rest of Sinai on time.
One apparent spinoff has been a flurry of reports that a government of ''national unity'' may be formed here. Both Mr. Begin's conservative coalition and the opposition Labor Party have denied the reports. But officials from both sides have continued leaking the contrary to Israeli news media.
The idea, political analysts here say, would be to bury partisan differences in a bid to defuse expected resistance within Israel to returning the rest of Sinai.
Officials close to Mr. Begin say they feel sure he will hold to the Sinai commitment. ''It would take something really major, like a withdrawal by Egypt of its ambassador in Israel, to make Begin hesitate,'' said one.
''Begin is legalistic. . . . This is one reason he refuses to expand Israel's commitments on the Palestinian front from what was agreed in black and white at Camp David. And this is also what will make him intent upon living up to all commitments Israel made there and afterward. This most definitely includes the return of the final part of Sinai.''
But Israeli settlers in Sinai don't agree. And many analysts here expect there will be violent resistance to a final Sinai handover.
Other Israelis are less sure of how the Sinai return should be handled, or whether it should be delayed. And some feel Mr. Sadat's death changes nothing.
But many more appear increasingly uncomfortable about the prospect of a return of the remaining Sinai area so soon after Mr. Sadat's killing.
More conservative Israelis - Mr. Begin included, says one associate - never fully trusted the Egyptian leader. ''Begin liked him, but never gauged peace strategy on Mr. Sadat as a person. . . . In this sense, I think Begin may have less trouble adjusting to the disappearance of Sadat than will those here who did trust him.''
And many Israelis trusted, even revered, Anwar Sadat.
One young woman puts it this way: ''You know, I would never have believed that I would feel more broken up by the death of the President of Egypt than by the death of Moshe Dayan,'' the Israeli soldier-statesman who died shortly after Mr. Sadat. ''But I did.''
''It was amazing,'' says one government official. ''But Sadat was mourned by many of us as almost an Israeli national hero.''
Now, says one Labor Party activist, ''the Sadat assassination, accompanied as it is by the Saudi plan and a lot of other things, has hit this country hard. We're just not feeling very good about the world nowadays.''