There are increasing indications that President Barack Obama plans to push ahead with the appointment of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, setting the stage for a fierce political confirmation battle in which Israel will play a central role.
Although there has been no official statement, informed sources told Haaretz that they have “every reason to believe” the veracity of a Friday report in Foreign Policy, according to which Obama is expected to announce Hagel’s appointment “as early as Monday”. The sources said that several leading figures in the Democratic Party had been informally told that Hagel would be chosen.
If the reports are borne out, the appointment of the maverick former senator from Nebraska is likely to spark an all-out political conflagration that would pit Democrats against Republicans, liberals vs. neocons - and Hagel-supporters against his opponents inside the Jewish community.
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