A Senate Armed Services staffer tells me that Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing will be livestreamed at this address tomorrow morning starting at 9:30.
In the runup to the hearing, 112 pages of Hagel’s responses to “Advance Policy Questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee” have been released. The document includes no references to the peace process, and only one reference to Palestine or Palestinians:
I am proud of the work that the United States has done in support of the ballistic missile defense of Israel and, if confirmed, I will continue to support these efforts. Missile defense is a core area of U.S.-Israel joint cooperation. The importance of these efforts came to the forefront with Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. Throughout the eight days of the operation, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) launched over 1,506 rockets into Israel. Focusing only on these that posed a real threat to populated areas, Iron Dome intercepted 421 rockets with an overall intercept rate of approximately 85% – saving the lives of countless Israeli civilians. This highlights the importance of the work that the U.S. is doing with the Israelis on all layers of missile and rocket defense, and if confirmed, I will work to continue and expand this cooperation.
As I often say, Our politics are broken on this issue. There are many supportive references to Israel. John Donnelly at CQ’s executive briefing for defense had this to say about Hagel’s answers:
He took a hard line on Iran and was supportive of Israel–an area where his past, relatively dovish statements have drawn flak from conservatives: ”I am committed to considering all options to counter Iran and its aggression, and to maintain U.S. support for missile defense systems in Israel. While there is time and space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, the window is closing.”
But conservative pro-Israel opposition remains fierce, bolstered by the pivotal role being played by Christians United For Israel, the Texas-based group founded by Pastor John Hagee.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the first senator to come out against Hagel’s nomination, did so at Hagee’s behest, both men revealed on Monday.
To be continued…