WASHINGTON (Mar. 9)
Mark A. Siegel, President Carter’s link with the American Jewish community, has resigned from the White House staff in protest over the Administration’s attitude toward Israel and the President will probably react officially within the next few days, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed.
Siegel’s first decision last week was to leave his duties as liaison to the American Jewish community but to remain on the Presidential staff and continue as a Deputy Assistant to Political Advisor Hamilton Jordan with services to the Democratic national and state committees. But he changed his mind after his disenchantment with the President’s Middle East policies became public knowledge. It is not known who leaked that information to the press or to what purpose.
Siegel’s impending departure represents the first major rift in Carter’s inner circle and reflects what is being reported to be the dominant opinion in the American Jewish community over elements of the Administration’s Middle East policy.
According to White House sources, Siegel’s immediate problem with Carter’s policy is centered on the aircraft sales package for Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which is opposed by many in Congress. Siegel is said to have felt that he was given misleading information about the sale of 60 F-15s to Saudi Arabia by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the President’s National Security Advisor and Brzezinski’s aides on the National Security Council.
It is reported here that Brzezinki has become the focal point of the growing coldness between the Carter Administration and the American Jewish leadership. The Siegel affair and Brzezinski’s Mideast policies and what the American Jewish community makes of them were seen here as a major psychological element in President Carter’s meetings with Israeli Premier Menachem Begin next week.