After weeks of public pressure and repeated criticism from all sides of the political map, including from within his own government, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finally agreed to appoint a retired judge to head the Governmental Inquiry Committee who will investigate the failures of the war in Lebanon.
The appointment of Dr. Eliyahu Vinograd, former Chief Justice of the Tel Aviv District Court, means that the committee will now enjoy greater authority to interrogate witnesses and reach legally binding conclusions, including personal culpability. In contrast to the committee first suggested by Olmert, the Vinograd Committee will investigate the performance of the political echelon as well as the military system up to and during the war.
Officials within the Prime Minister’s office say that the decision to appoint the upgraded committee was reached after consultations with the Attorney General and the members of the proposed committee. The AG approved Judge Vinograd’s appointment after no evidence of conflicts was discovered.
The committee’s members include Prof. Ruth Gabizon and Prof. Ezekiel Dror, Maj. General (Ret) Menachem Einan and another senior retired officer to be named later. Nahum Admoni, former Director of the Mossad, who was first appointed to head the committee, will stay on as a member.
The appointment of the Vinograd Committee has greatly improved Olmert’s political standing within the government. Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who supported a national investigation committee, said that the new committee satisfies three criteria that he set forth: A judge to head the committee, investigative authority, and examination of both political and military behavior. Minister Shaul Mofaz also said he will lift his opposition, and support the committee.