Jewish lobby group wants Senate to take harder look at Hagel's Israel views

A Jewish advocacy group is calling for “further Senate deliberation” on Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel because of his views on Middle East policy.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said the former Nebraska Republican senator’s “complex record and controversial statements he has made since his public service on strategic and political affairs” necessitated a closer look.

Senate Republicans blocked Hagel’s nomination through a filibuster. He received 58 votes — two shy of the amount needed to break the hold, as Senate Majority Leader (D-Nev.) switched from a yes vote so he could bring up Hagel’s nomination again.

Republicans said the White House rushed the nomination, which they said necessitated the hold. Reid and President Obama accused the GOP of playing politics.

And while Hagel is still likely to get confirmed, the hold underscores the touchy matter of his nomination.

Republicans have taken issue with Hagel on several topics, with Israel being prominent.

The GOP has highlighted a comment Hagel made during an interview while still in the Senate in which he said the Jewish lobby "intimidates a lot of people." Hagel has said he misspoke, mentioning he said “Israel lobby” elsewhere in that interview.

Republicans also have aired concerns with an earlier Hagel statement in which he supported U.S. engagement with Hamas.

While AJC is calling for more discussion, some pro-Israel lobby groups have backed Hagel's nomination. 

In a December statement, the liberal J Street advocacy group said it was "appalled by efforts surfacing in recent days to question his (Hagel's) commitment to the state of Israel and to Middle East peace."