Nonetheless, he favors "direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran."
He called for direct Hamas/Hezbollah engagement. In 2008, he endorsed direct talks with Syria and North Korea.
There's "not one shred of evidence" that he's anti-Israeli, he said. "Israel is in a very, very difficult position. No border that touches Israel is always secure. We need to work to help protect Israel so it doesn't get isolated."
He calls "distortions about (his) record".astonishing." During Senate confirmation hearings, he welcomes "an opportunity to respond" to critics.
At the same time, Politico quoted him saying "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. If I go run for the Senate in Israel, I'll do that."
Politico added that:
"In 2006, (he) used the term 'Jewish Lobby,' " saying:- Advertisement -
"The political reality is".that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. 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."
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) head Abe Foxman responded, saying:
"What I find more troubling is, he had sufficient time to distance himself from the "Jewish lobby' quote, to explain, and he hasn't."
"He let it stand. I find that more troubling than the original statement. He sees it out there. He sees it being seen as this truly conspiratorial view, that the Jewish lobby controls foreign policy, and there's no comment."
AIPAC withheld comment. The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said:- Advertisement -
"While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, (Hagel) will follow the president's lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel - on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran's nuclear program."
On January 8, the right-wing Jerusalem Post headlined "Ayalon: Hagel sees Israel as 'true and natural' ally," saying:Ayalon is Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister. He's positive on Hagel's nomination. "I have met him many times," he said, "and he certainly regards Israel as a true and natural US ally."