Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday in an address to municipality leaders in the north that he had decided to appoint three separate governmental inquiry committees to investigate the failures of the latest war in Lebanon. Labor ministers within the government have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision and said they will vote against the move.
The leading voices within the government against the decision come from Labor Ministers Ophir Pines and Eitan Cabel. Minister Pines said that “a national investigative committee is the best way to go. I will vote against the current proposal and try to convince other ministers to do the same.” Defense Minister Amir Peretz, also of Labor, had not made any decision yet if he will support the proposal or not.
The three committees will each investigate a separate aspect of the war. The first committee will investigate the performance of the government, and the political leadership. This committee will be headed by Nahum Admoni, former chief of the Mossad. The members will include professors and former ranking military officers.
The second committee will investigate the performance of the army. Olmert did not specify who will head the committee, but speculations are that it will be headed by former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. General (Ret) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak who was recently appointed by the Defense Minister for the same position, but did not start working.
The third committee will be headed by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss (photo) and will investigate the performance and preparedness of the Home Front, and the municipalities during the war. In a late development, the Comptroller said this morning that he had only heard of the nomination from the media, and that his “examination of the war does not hinge on a nomination from the Prime Minister. By law I report only to the Knesset.”
With that, PM Olmert had rejected the public outcry for a national investigative committee which holds more power and is not run by figures nominated by the Prime Minister, but by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A national investigative committee also has the power to hold both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense personally accountable for their actions, something a governmental inquiry committee does not have.
Olmert explained that the appointing of a national investigative committee would have paralyzed the army since the officers would be too busy defending themselves legally instead of learning the lessons. He said that he would not allow for a public and collective lashing of the army, but there is a need for a serious investigation of the army.
Sources estimate that even with the descent within the government, Olmert still has a majority in the Cabinet to pass the proposal.