Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel said he “regrets” his 2003 comment that Israel keeps “Palestinians caged up like animals” during the second part of his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday:
SEN. MIKE LEE (R., UTAH): I understand that you have made a statement indicating that there is “no justification for Palestinian suicide bombers” but that there is also no justification for Israel to “keep Palestinians caged up like animals.” Did you say that and, if so, do you stand by that statement today?
HAGEL: Well, I said it, and I don’t remember the context or when I said it.
LEE: Do you believe today that Israel keeps Palestinians caged up like animals?
HAGEL: No, if I had an opportunity to edit that, like many things I’ve said, I would like to go back and change the words and the meaning. It was, I think, in a larger context–I’ve said many, many things over many years. It was a larger context of the frustration in what’s happening, which is not in Israel’s interest, to find ways that we can help bring peace and security to Israel. If I had a chance to go back and edit it, I would. I regret that I used those words.
The quotation Lee referred to comes from a Jan. 12, 2003 Lincoln Journal Star article, which was posted by the Washington Free Beacon earlier this week.