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Yishai, Steinitz ready defense for fire report
By GIL HOFFMAN
06/20/2012
State Comptroller to release Carmel Fire report; PM gives Steinitz job security assurances; Yishai posts video defending actions.
 
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.

The 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 fire.

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.

Steinitz will 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 country.

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 taken.

The video includes clips of Yishai warning prime minister Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu to upgrade the country’s firefighting services before the fire.

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.

Kadima MK 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.”
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