KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Maj. Gen. Omar el-Tayeb, the former first vice president, went on trial for his life Saturday, accused of plotting with the United States to smuggle Ethiopian Jews to Israel through Sudan.

He pleaded innocent to the charges, which the prosecution said ''God, the nation and history will not forgive.''

El-Tayeb was the director of state security under President Gafaar Nimeiri, who was ousted by a military coup on April 6.

Four officers who had been charged with el-Tayeb told a three-judge panel they had agreed to testify against the general in exchange for pardons.

El-Tayeb is charged with nine offenses, include high treason and violating the Arab League boycott of Israel. If convicted, he could be hanged or sentenced to life imprisonment.

Nimeiri was named as a co-defendant in the case, which grew out of the airlift of more than 10,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel late last year. Nimeiri was returning from the United States when his government was ousted and he obtained political asylum in Egypt..

Attorney General Omar Abdul-Atti told the court that the case against Nimeiri had been separated from the others, leaving el-Tayeb the sole defendant.

He read the prosecution's opening statement, alleging that the United States was involved directly in the airlift through the CIA, its armed forces and its embassy in Khartoum.

The clandestine operation was halted last January after reports about it appeared in foreign newspapers.

On Tuesday, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel had confirmed that the CIA airlifted 1,700 Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.

The newspaper said Peres told American Jewish leaders in New York some of the details of ''Operation Moses,'' in which about 10,000 Jews were brought from drought-stricken Ethiopia to Israel.

It said Peres thanked President Reagan forthe U.S. help during a meeting in Washington on Oct. 17.

Abdul-Atti told the court that el-Tayeb had allowed the Americans to convert their embassy in Khartoum into ''an operations room'' to coordinate the airlift.

''He also allowed U.S. C-130 Hercules to enter Sudan manned with armed American personnel to carry Ethiopian Jews to Israel,'' Abdul-Atti said, adding:

''El-Tayeb even flew to Washington for direct consultations with CIA chief William Casey to enable the U.S. Air Force to accomplish a military operation with the aim of transporting more Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) from al-Azaza air strip in eastern Sudan.''

The attorney general told the judges ''we have proof'' that el-Tayeb personally received $2 million from the operation and ''may have received other sums, but there is no proof of that.'' He did not specify where the money came from.