King Hussein of Jordan has emphatically rejected the much-touted "Jordanian option" -- bringing Jordan into Mideast peace talks on behalf of West Bank Palestinians.
Instead he has reaffirmed with new precision the Palestinians' own indispensable central role in any peace process.
And he has indicated that Jordan looks to the United States and President-elect Ronald Reagan's administration for fresh initiatives and new responses, since he asserts: "Camp David is dead."
The Jordan monarch used the occasion of a joint Jordanian-US symposium, sponsored in Amman by Georgetown University in Washington and the Jordanian World Affairs Council, to repudiate any notion that Jordan either could or should represent the Palestinians in the peace negotiations.
The same sharp rejection was repeated at a tea for the visiting academics and again by Crown Prince Hasan Talal in the closing session. It all added up to a clear public message to the new US administration.
Rejecting the "Jordanian option" categorically, the King articulated instead the four parts of the "Jordanian perspective" for the incoming administration:
1. Total Israel withdrawal from the captured territories, including all of Arab Jerusalem, without which, he stated, "there can be no peace."
2. Palestinian self-determination on their own national soil.
3. A "Palestinian contribution," meaning in context that te Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip must be allowed to participate in the negotiations themselves.
4. No alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."
Jordan's repudiation of the "Jordanian option" extended to its self-appointed oracle, Henry Kissinger, who had prominently pushed the idea that Jordan assume the unwelcome and unrewarding role of buffer vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
King Hussein, with equal prominence, declined to receive the former US secretary of state during his Middle East tour last week.
The personal rebuff to Dr. Kissinger was carefully calculated to underscore Jordan's clear dismay over what it regards as a new US effort to "fragment" the Arabs and delay serious steps toward peace.
Lord Caradon, former United Kingdom ambassador to the United Nations, also interviewed at the same meeting, described the concept simply as "deceitful" and characterized the European peace initiatives, based upon Palestinian self-determination as a "comprehensive proposal which the US should be ashamed to reject."
The local press reacted with even more acerbity, attacking both Dr. Kissinger's integrity and motive, and reported that King Hussein had refused to receive Kissinger partly in order not to validate the former secretary's pretensions to participation.
While flatly rejecting any possible Jordanian role as surrogate for the Plo and focusing on the policies of Dr. Kissinger and "others," the King clearly affirmed his hope for "new overtures" from the Reagan administration toward a peace settlement.
He stressed the emergent European consensus supporting the Palestinian claims , and especially his hope that this move "builds a bridge to the US and creates a new opportunity" for a positive US response.