Prominent US senator comes out in favor of Hagel as defense secretary
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Prominent US senator comes out in favor of Hagel as defense secretary

In Israel, Bill Nelson says controversial nominee has a positive record, Netanyahu didn't object to his nomination

In this Feb. 21, 2007, file photo, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks during an appearance at Bellevue University, in Bellevue, Neb. In January 2013 Hagel was slated to be the next US Secretary of Defense. (photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik)
In this Feb. 21, 2007, file photo, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks during an appearance at Bellevue University, in Bellevue, Neb. In January 2013 Hagel was slated to be the next US Secretary of Defense. (photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik)

JERUSALEM (AP) — A prominent member of the US Senate said Tuesday Israel should not worry about President Obama’s choice for defense secretary.

Some in Israel view Chuck Hagel as unsympathetic to the Jewish state because his positions on Iran and the Palestinians seem to be at odds with those of the Israeli government.

But US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida who is visiting Israel, said Tuesday that Hagel has a record of support for Israel. Nelson said he will back Hagel’s nomination.

Nelson, who will serve on the armed services committee of the new Senate, said he met with senior Israeli intelligence officials Tuesday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

He said he also discussed Hagel’s nomination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said the prime minister did not voice objections to Hagel.

Nelson took issue with comments this week by his colleague Rand Paul. During a visit to Israel, the Republican senator from Kentucky called for an end to foreign aid, even to allies like Israel. Nelson said US aid to Israel, about $3 billion a year, would continue.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

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