US President Barack Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel,
apologized for controversial comments he made in 2006 about a “Jewish lobby” in
He also clarified his position on Iran and Hezbollah in a
letter to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, Washington news site Politico
reported on Tuesday.
In the letter Hagel apologized for saying a “Jewish
lobby” in Washington tends to “intimidate” lawmakers. He deemed it “a very poor
choice of words” and said he understood how such words “can be constructed as
According to Politico, Hagel clarified that he is
“overwhelmingly supportive of a strong US-Israel strategic and security
relationship,” and promised to work to expand the ties between the two
Critics of the Nebraska Republican took to Sunday television
news programs to drive home concerns that Hagel opposes sanctions and is
satisfied with containing Iran, as opposed to preventing it from obtaining a
But Hagel, who repeatedly voted in the Senate against US
sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, wrote that he supports unilateral
In 2006, Hagel questioned Israel’s dealings with Hezbollah in
Lebanon and declined to sign a letter calling on the European Union to list
Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
In his letter to Boxer, Hagel
pacified critics by condemning Hezbollah as a terrorist threat to Israel,
according to Politico.
Hagel added that he supports giving foreign aid to
Israel, and that he previously called Hamas a terrorist group as
Reuters contributed to this report.