Israel responded coolly to President Obama’s nomination Monday of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a frequent critic of the Jewish state, to head the Department of Defense.

Conservative U.S. Jews have been vocally criticizing Hagel since his name was first floated last month, for his past warnings against the “Jewish lobby” and his preference for engagement with Iran and the Palestinian group Hamas. Israeli officials, wary of intruding in U.S. politics and facing their own elections in two weeks, had largely stayed out of the fray until Monday, but finally acknowledged their unease after the nomination was made official.

“Because of his statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel, we are worried,” Israeli parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party, told The Associated Press. Rivlin added, however, that “one person doesn’t determine policy.”