Pentagon nominee Hagel vows 'total support' for Israel
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Mr Chuck Hagel, bracing for a bruising Senate confirmation as the next United States (US) defence secretary, pledged on Monday "total support" for Israel after lawmakers criticised his views on the Middle East.
There is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one vote (of mine) that matters that hurt Israel", the former Republican senator told The Lincoln Journal Star, a newspaper in his home state of Nebraska.
Mr Hagel and Democratic President Barack Obama did not address the controversy as he was nominated at the White House. But the Nebraska newspaper quoted the famously blunt senator as saying critics have "completely distorted" his record.
Mr Hagel said that, until his nomination was announced, he had been "hanging out in no-man's land unable to respond to charges, falsehoods and distortions" and that he has shown "unequivocal, total support for Israel".