New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says he now supports Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, helping to pave the way for his confirmation in the Senate.
When President Barack Obama announced Hagel as his pick, it raised concerns with some supporters of Israel like Schumer. But the influential New York Democrat said Hagel addressed all of his lingering doubts in a 90-minute Monday meeting at the White House, the Huffington Post reports
Schumer said he was concerned that Hagel in the past had encouraged President Obama to open direct talks with Hamas, considered to be a terrorist group. But Hagel assured him that he believes there should be no negotiations with Hamas, Hezbollah or any other terrorist group until they renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist, Schumer said in a statement.
Hagel had come under fire for describing American supporters of Israel as the "Jewish lobby," but he now "understands the sensitivity around such a loaded term and regrets saying it," Schumer said.
The former Republican senator from Nebraska also addressed Schumer's concerns about how he would handle Iran.
"Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do 'whatever it takes' to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force," Schumer said. "He said his 'top priority' as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran."
For opponents concerned about Hagel's stance on gay and lesbian members of the military, he said supports the full repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Schumer said.
Via the Huffington Post