Olmert not decided on inquiry committee

Sunday, August 27, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not reached a decision as of yet whether to appoint a National Investigative Committee or a lower level Governmental Inquiry Committee to investigate the failures of the recent war in Lebanon.

During the weekend Olmert held consultations on the matter with his advisors, but has not reached a decision just yet.

Despite early expectations, Olmert did not include the subject in the agenda for today’s weekly Cabinet meeting. Minister Ophir Pines (Labor) demanded to discuss the matter, but Olmert cut him off and said it is not on the agenda, therefore it will not be discussed.

Among the ministers there is a majority for the creation of a Governmental Inquiry Committee, which is one level lower than the National Investigative Committee that is headed by an appointee of the Chief Justice of the High Court. A Governmental Inquiry Committee would be headed by an appointee of the Prime Minister, and would be limited in its powers to decide on personal culpability. The National Investigative Committee, however, has the authority, as it has done in the past, to hold both Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense personally accountable for their actions.

The assessment is that Olmert would be in favor of the Governmental Inquiry Committee, along with a majority of the ministers, but is afraid that public pressure will only increase if he takes this route.

Meanwhile Minister Pines said in an interview to Israel Defense Forces Radio today that Olmert was wrong for not appointing Amir Peretz to be Treasury Minister. “Here begins the original sin. The Labor Party came with a particular message and asked for the Treasury portfolio in order to fulfill that message, and there were those who stood on their hind legs so we will not get what we wanted,” he said referring to PM Olmert himself.

Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said that the committee, Governmental or National must reach its conclusions in a short time. “There is a need to learn the lessons quickly, because there is a possibility of yet another war. We must not wait any longer,” Yishai said. Conversely, Minister Rafi Eitan (Gil) says there is no need for any committee since the systems are capable of investigating themselves. Kadima ministers Zeev Boim and Gideon Ezra have expressed their wishes for an inquiry committee.

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