Thursday, December 27, 2007

PM Olmert: I Won't Resign Following Winograd C'tee Report

Ezra HaLevi

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he has no intention of resigning following the upcoming publication of the conclusions of the Winograd Committee on the Second Lebanon War. The report, which has taken over a year to compile, will be published in the coming weeks. Politicians and pundits have operated on the assumption that the fall of the Kadima-led government would come about as a result of the committee’s findings.

Olmert made the statement during a meeting with members of the far-left Meretz party. "I will find the right time and place to respond to the publication of the report,” Olmert said.

Politicians Respond

“Olmert’s chutzpa has no bounds,” said MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) in response to Olmert’s declaration. “He forgot that the government appointed the Winograd Committee in order to give its opinion on his command, not in order for him to give his opinion on the committee. Olmert’s audacity seems to be based on his confidence that the collection of lackeys making up his coalition will prefer remaining in their seats rather than send Olmert home and go to elections.”

MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) called Olmert’s statement “a new record of disregard for the citizens of Israel. Judgement is about to be rendered via the committee’s report, revealing the full extent of his personal failures, and he is already declaring he will ignore it.”

Bereaved Families Respond

Bereaved families whose loved ones died in the Second Lebanon War have announced that they will launch a determined struggle to bring down Olmert if he won’t step down of his own accord. "If Prime Minister Olmert doesn’t resign from his position following the Winograd report, we, the bereaved families, will make him do so,” said Forum for Bereaved Families head Moshe Muskal. “He has known for more than 500 days that he must step down…We will launch a campaign to bring about his resignation and return the nation to the polls."

Muskal said such a struggle would include blocking roads, hunger strikes, protests and obstructing Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s motorcades.

The Winograd Committee, handpicked by Olmert himself, has already said that it will not include any specific recommendations on what course of action individuals implicated in its findings should take.

The text of the interim report dealing with Olmert:

* The Prime Minister bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of 'his' government and the operations of the army. His responsibility for the failures in the initial decisions concerning the war stem from both his position and from his behavior, as he initiated and led the decisions which were taken.

* The Prime Minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one. Also, his decision was made without close study of the complex features of the Lebanon front and of the military, political and diplomatic options available to Israel. He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs. In addition, he did not adequately consider political and professional reservations presented to him before the fateful decisions of July 12th.c)

* The Prime Minister is responsible for the fact that the goals of the campaign were not set out clearly and carefully, and that there was no serious discussion of the relationships between these goals and the authorized modes of military action. He made a personal contribution to the fact that the declared goals were over-ambitious and not feasible.

* The Prime Minister did not adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel's actions were not realistic and were not materializing.

* All of these add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.

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