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Senate Confirms Hagel as Secretary of Defense

The U.S. Senate confirms Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, ending an acrimonious nominations process.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/27/2013, 1:12 AM

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel
Reuters

The U.S. Senate confirmed Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense on Tuesday, ending an acrimonious nominations process and giving President Barack Obama a victory as he fills his second-term cabinet, AFP reports.

Senators voted 58-41, with four Republicans joining the majority Democrats to confirm the Republican former senator to replace outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta.

Hagel is likely to be sworn in Wednesday, the report said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Senate voted to break a filibuster against Hagel’s nomination. The decision to end debate was approved on a 71-27 vote, easily clearing the 60-vote threshold.

Hagel's nomination had been held up for over a week as several Republicans demanded a delay in the process in order to obtain and review information about Hagel's finances and transcripts of speeches that he gave to international organizations in recent years.

However even some of his strongest critics, including Republicans Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, eventually voted to end debate on the nomination and allow a floor vote.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, along with countless others, has cited a long list of Hagel’s anti-Israel policies, asserting that his nomination would “be a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel.”

Hagel recently claimed in response that there is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel."

Nevertheless, reports about countless statements he has made against Israel over the years have surfaced in recent weeks.

Last week, a publication of Hagel’s statements from a 2010 meeting with university students showed yet another anti-Israel statement.

Hagel reportedly said that Israel is becoming an “apartheid state,” and dismissed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as “a radical.”

An op-ed by longtime Arutz Sheva contributor Mark Langfan exposed last week that Hagel had co-authored a 2009 report that called for U.S. troops to lead a peacekeeping force that would patrol the future borders between Israel and a Palestinian state.

The report also suggested that peace could be imposed from outside by the U.S., describing arguments to the contrary as “invalid.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has warned fellow Republicans they will be held accountable if they vote to end the ongoing Senate filibuster over Hagel’s nomination.