Worries in Israel over Obama's Hagel nomination
Hagel’s perceived sympathy with the Palestinian position and more relaxed approach to Iran’s nuclear program have worried some in Tel Aviv.
Israeli media portrayed Hagel as unsupportive, pointing to past statements that criticized the Israeli lobby in Washington as wielding undue influence. The White House responded by saying that Hagel is a "staunch supporter of Israel."
He once said: "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator."
"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," he said.
In 2008, the senator refused to sign a letter calling for the European Union to label Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah a “terrorist organization.” He has also argued for engagement with Hamas and criticized US-Israeli policy toward Iran.
The announcement of Hagel as secretary of defense could further distance the Obama White House from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Speaking at an event for Jews from North America in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu hinted at Hagel’s appointment, saying "it is time for many who don't see these dangers to wake up to them."