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Begin: Government erred in handling flotilla
By JPOST.COM STAFF
14/06/2012
Knesset State Control C'tee debates problems highlighted by State Comptroller report on 'Mavi Marmara' incident.
 
Likud Minister Benny Begin said Thursday that while the government clearly erred in its handling of the Mavi Marmara incident, the State Comptroller's report on the incident does not necessarily give any lessons on the operation of the government in general.

The report sharply criticizes as "unsystematic" the decision-making processes at the most senior political levels, particularly by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the weeks and days immediately preceding the flotilla's arrival in Israeli waters.

Speaking at the Knesset State Control Committee discussion of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss's report, Begin said "of course we made mistakes, but there is no doubt that today, we plan and operate differently."

National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror also addressed the committee, saying that the report's criticism of the NSC and its lack of involvement in planning for the flotilla, had already been largely rectified.

Amidror said that their has been "a massive improvement in all connected to the NSC's work, and the NSC is allowed to do more."

Knesset State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) expressed less confidence in the government's handling of such events, saying that he plans to request a State Comptroller report on the government's handling of the Iranian nuclear threat in light of the Mavi Marmara report.

Ariel said he was worried about Lindenstrauss’s findings. He summoned Amidror to the committee to address which problems have already been solved and what can still be done to fix the rest.

Ariel was quoted by Army Radio as saying Thursday that "if we saw here such difficulty in the decision-making process, of course we must check this on threats which are greater and more serious and we will push for a probe of this kind."

Also Thursday, former National Security Council head Uzi Arad responded to the State Comptroller report, saying he had tried to resign from his position a month before the incident.

Arad told Army Radio that the Prime Minister's Office was not allowing the National Security Council to exercise the authority granted to it by the 2008 National Security Council Law.

Lindenstrauss criticized a litany of failures in the implementation of the 2008 National Security Council Law, and noted that as a result, the NSC had not played the central role it should have in the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla decision-making process.

Arad claimed that he had resigned because Netanyahu's military adviser at the time, Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Locker was directly in contact with the IDF, cutting out the National Security Council, and creating an unorganized situation.

The NSC itself conducted a meeting on how to deal with the arriving flotilla only on May 12, 2010 (the flotilla arrived on May 31), and even then did not integrate dealing with the flotilla into its staff work, Lindenstrauss noted, adding that the IDF and Defense Ministry did not cooperate when the NSC requested them to do so.

The state comptroller’s audit revealed that the NSC was not fulfilling the role originally intended for it, and that the council, which Amidror heads, still does not act as a central headquarters for foreign and security affairs, that should provide added value for decision-makers on vital security issues.

Gil Hoffman and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.
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