Israel's Speaker of the Parliament (Knesset) Reuven Rivlin stated on Tuesday that the incoming U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's is a definite reason to worry about drastic changes in American military policy, an Israeli police and counterterrorism official told the Law Enforcement Examiner on Tuesday.
"The concern is not only Israel's and not only connected to Hagel's personal positions regarding Israel," Rivlin said in a statement.
However, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Yediot Aharonot daily Tuesday that "I have met (Hagel) many times, and he certainly regards Israel as a true and natural U.S. ally."
In August 2006, Hagel was one of only of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, according to the Israeli police source and the Washington Post.
Critics claim that Hagel will cut military expenditures and downplay the dangers posed by Iran and other terrorist nations and supporters.
In fact, according to the Israeli police source, the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said he hoped Hagel's appointment would lead to changes in the relationship between Iran and the Americans.
Hagel's Republican and Democratic critics have also pointed to his hostile remarks and attitudes toward both Israel and relations with Jewish organizations during his tenure as a senator in his home state of Nebraska.
"The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people," Hagel said in 2006, adding that "I've always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel," according to the Times of Israel.
In March 2009, in an interview on Al Jazeera, Hagel had agreed that the U.S. is the world’s bully:
INTERVIEWER: “We’ve got an email from Wendy Day. She writes to us from Georgia here in the United States. She writes, ‘Can the rest of the world be persuaded to give up their arsenal when the image of the U.S. is that of the world’s bully? Don’t we indeed need to change the perception and the reality before asking folks to lay down their arms (nuclear or otherwise)?’”
CHUCK HAGEL: “Well her observation is a good one, and it’s relevant. Yes, to her question.”
In 2008, Hagel wrote:
“America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not decrease Iran’s influence, but rather increases it.”
“Iran will not be deterred from developing nuclear arms only because the United States and the EU say they must—especially if they feel threatened and if the United States, Great Britain, France, and Israel, among others, all retain their nuclear weapons.”
“America is the Great Power—not Iran. Because of the awesome responsibility that comes with such power, it falls to us to advance the proposition that the United States and Iran can overcome decades of mutual mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.”