Chuck Hagel in a meeting with Jewish organizational leaders affirmed his commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge.
Israeli politics is always a mix of high drama and low comedy, but the current fight within Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's divided government is anything but entertaining for Jewish leaders here.
Israeli commentators have noted that it is a struggle for the soul of the Likud party. How that turns out will have consequences for the U.S.-Israel relationship and on Israel's already-low standing around the world.
With U.S.-Israel relations facing an explosive new crisis, a number of Israel representatives were in Washington this week, offering mixed messages about the intentions of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government.
Some Jewish leaders here said the conradictions could increase the likelihood of serious misunderstandings between the two allies as the U.S.-led war against terrorism intensifies and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict worsens.