Defense chiefs Hagel and Yaalon to meet in Israel this month

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to Israel this month for a meeting with Moshe Ya’alon, his Israeli counterpart.

Reuters quoted an unnamed Israeli defense official as saying Hagel would visit Israel April 21-23; a Pentagon official confirmed that Hagel planned to travel to Israel “later this month.”

It will be Hagel’s first trip to Israel since he assumed office in February after a bruising Senate confirmation battle in which senators besieged him with questions about his past comments critical of Israel, as well as his skepticism on the efficacy of a strike to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Israeli officials have since said they are familiar with Hagel from his days as a Republican senator from Nebraska and look forward to working with him. — jta