Hagel Nomination Could Upset Israel Backers

Monday, 17 Dec 2012 10:47 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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If President Barack Obama decides to nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as secretary of defense, he will face opposition from some Israel supporters, according to Politico.

Hagel is reportedly Obama’s top choice to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is expected to quit his post early next year.

The former senator’s opponents are particularly upset with comments he made in a 2006 interview with Aaron David Miller for the author’s book, “The Much Too Promised Land.”

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Hagel scoffed at those who accused him of failing to support Israel. “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator,” he said in the interview, Politico reports. “I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Hagel also had some choice words for Israel’s supporters in Washington. “The political reality is . . . that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” he said. “I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.”

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Hagel is still expected to be confirmed if Obama appoints him. But the question is whether the president wants a controversy, especially after the brouhaha that led U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to remove herself from consideration for secretary of state.

Other reported contenders for the Pentagon job are former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.





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