Jan 15, 2013
U.S. Secretary of Defense designate, former senator Chuck Hagel, has expressed regret for using the term “Jewish lobby” and has reiterated his support for “a strong U.S.-Israel relationship” and for “Israel’s right to defend itself against attack.”
In a letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer, Hagel wrote: “America’s relationship with Israel is one that is fundamentally built on our nations shared values, common interests and democratic ideals. The Middle East is undergoing dramatic and historic changes, ones which surround Israel with tremendous uncertainty. We are working together daily, hand in hand, in unprecedented ways, to counter old, new and emerging mutual threats. I fully intend to expand the depth and breadth of U.S.-Israel cooperation.”
Hagel’s letter to Boxer is part of a concerted effort led by the White House to convince hesitant Democratic senators to support confirmation of his nomination to the Pentagon. Senator Boxer announced last night that Hagel’s answers in writing and in a separate telephone conversation had allayed her concerns and that she would support his nomination.
Hagel is slated to meet later this week with New York Senator Charles Schumer, who has expressed deep reservations about the appointment. Political observers believe that securing Schumer’s support is critical to ensuring that the Democratic majority in the Senate will line up solidly behind Hagel and thus ensure his confirmation.