Olmert won't let war probe bring him down

Sunday, April 29, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not allow harsh criticism of his leadership by an investigative committee into the handling of last summer's war against Lebanon's Hizballah prematurely end his tenure, insisted sources close to the Israeli leader on Sunday.

The Winograd Commission is scheduled to publish its preliminary findings on Monday. A correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 News said on Saturday that he had seen portions of the report, and that it did not bode well for Olmert.

The document reportedly concludes by censuring Olmert for making "misguided and hasty" decisions during the 34-day conflict, and for rushing into war without first determining a path to victory.

Olmert claimed earlier this year that he was aware of the Hizballah threat months before the outbreak of hostilities, and had drawn up operational plans that he said were ultimately implemented with relative success.

But the committee found that the government in fact had no coherent operational plans for the possibility of war with Hizballah, and failed to effectively execute any plans that did exist.

Nevertheless, coalition chairman Avigdor Yitzhaky told Ynet that Olmert will not give in to calls to step down, even if the committee's findings corroborate the public's feeling that the prime minister failed to deliver the promised victory over Hizballah.

"We don't expect the Winograd report to destabilize the political system to the point where the prime minister will need to be replaced," said Yitzhaky, insisting that "the coalition is very strong."

The report is also expected to express disapproval with the performance of both Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Dan Halutz.

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