ehud olmert 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chastised Culture and Sports Minister Ophir Paz-Pines Wednesday for publicly criticizing the management of the war in Lebanon, the second time in a week Olmert took a cabinet minister to task for stating positions at variance with government policy.
Olmert, at a cabinet meeting, characterized an interview Paz-Pines gave Friday to Ma'ariv as "uncollegial," and said that Paz-Pines also had a part in the government's collective responsibility. He said that those who do not feel that they can take part in this collective responsibility should "consider their steps."
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In the interview Paz-Pines was critical of the war in Lebanon, saying that it was clear to him from the beginning that the goals the government set could not be met. He was especially critical of the decision taken by Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to approve the final ground thrust to the Litani River after the UN Security Council had drawn up a cease-fire resolution.
Although Olmert has said that this final operation, which cost the lives of 33 soldiers, was necessary to improve the resolution, Paz-Pines revealed in the interview a document circulated among Labor ministers of the original UN resolution, which was not that different from the final resolution.
Immigration and Absorption Minister Zeev Boim started the criticism of Paz-Pines in the cabinet, saying that it was not right for a minister to attack in a newspaper interview decisions he himself was a part of.
"This is not appropriate," said Boim, a close Olmert ally.
Paz-Pines, in an Israel Radio interview after the cabinet meeting, admitted that he was "reprimanded," but said that although it was not pleasant, "it was not horrible."
He said that his criticism, which he had voiced during the war in both cabinet and security cabinet meetings, was not personal but dealt with the issues. He also said that now that time has passed since the war, the public had a right to know what the different positions were in the cabinet during the war, and how the various ministers viewed the issues.
He said that although the ministers shared collective responsibility for the government's decisions, "we are not a chorus."
A week ago at the last cabinet meeting Olmert also took a few ministers to task for publicly advocating policies not in line with government policy. During that meeting, in remarks directed at Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Olmert hinted he would fire ministers who publicly endorsed positions at odds with the government's formal policies.
Tamir had come out in favor of being open to the possibility of talks with Syria, as well as opening a dialogue with a PA government that includes Hamas if it recognizes Israel.