Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz prepared
Tuesday to defend themselves when State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss releases
his report on their handling of the December 2010 Carmel Forest fire.
report, which the state comptroller is releasing Wednesday afternoon, is
expected to hold them accountable with “special responsibility” for their
failure to upgrade the country’s firefighting services before the
While it is not expected to recommend the firing of the ministers,
opposition MKs and family members of victims will.
Steinitz met with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in recent days and received assurances that
Netanyahu will defend him and let him keep his job.
emphasize in his defense that the comptroller did not understand the role of the
finance minister and that blaming him is tantamount to blaming future finance
ministers for anything that could possibly go wrong in the
Yishai already posted on the Shas website a video produced to
defend his role in the fire. The stars of the video are family members of
victims who said they do not blame him and former judge Eliyahu Winograd who
praised Yishai as the only minister who encouraged action to be
The video includes clips of Yishai warning prime minister Ariel
Sharon and Netanyahu to upgrade the country’s firefighting services before the
It compares the fire to a conflagration in Australia that took
weeks to put out.
Yishai will give his formal response to the report on
Wednesday, at the home of a family member of a fire victim.
Yoel Hasson, who pushed for the investigation when he headed the Knesset State
Control Committee, denounced Yishai for producing the video, which he said only
proved his guilt.
“I am sorry Yishai is putting out public relations
videos and treating the comptroller’s report as if it was a reality show,”
Hasson said. “When the report comes out, we will know who is really responsible
and no Hollywood-style maneuver will let the culprit escape blame.”