White House: Hagel's Views Of Israel 'In Sync' With 'President's Policies'

Q Thank you. I noticed that in the nomination ceremony in the East Room, the President, as he was speaking about Senator Hagel, never mentioned Israel, never mentioned Iran. Those have been two of the main criticisms of Senator Hagel. Does the President feel like Hagel needs to address his past comments on Israel and Iran before he can be confirmed, or does he feel like those comments are irrelevant to this process?

MR. CARNEY: Well, today the President announced his nominees for Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and he made broad comments about why the two men he nominated are the right people for the jobs. There will be a process in each case where the Senate reviews the nominees and the President asked the Senate to move quickly because these positions are very important for our national security. And I know Senator Hagel and John Brennan look forward to that process and to fair hearings in both cases.

It is a routine part of this exercise that nominees are asked about their views on various issues. And on the matters you just raised, Senator Hagel has been a staunch supporter of Israel, of the Israeli-American relationship, of the United States’ support for Israel’s security throughout his career. And he has also been, as demonstrated by his record, a supporter of the broad sanctions regime that this President has put into place against Iran -- a sanctions regime that is unprecedented and which as recently as I think last spring, Senator Hagel wrote about favorably and urged Washington as a whole to continue. So I know -- I’m sure Senator Hagel looks forward to discussing his record in his nomination hearings.

Q But does the President feel like it’s important that Hagel clarify some of the statements that he made? Even after the President’s announcement today we saw statements from various lawmakers asking him to clarify what he meant.

MR. CARNEY: I think that the process will allow for what it always does, which is a review by the Senate of presidential nominees. I think that Senator Hagel’s record on those issues and so many others demonstrate that he is in sync with the President’s policies. And, on the first issue, let’s be clear. President Obama has, in his administration, overseen the closest, most substantial support for Israel’s defense of any administration in history. And that is a judgment that is not just made by me or others in the President’s administration; it’s a judgment that has been made and expressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And that is a policy that will continue under President Obama with all the members of his national security team. But again, the process is what it’s supposed to be, and I’m sure that there will be the kind of proceedings that normally take place when nominees for these positions are put forward.

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