Comptroller accepts PM's request to probe Carmel fire

Gov't ministries given 3 months to report on fixing problems revealed in Lindenstraus report; Knesset considers state inquiry into fire events.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REBECCA ANNA STOIL
December 14, 2010 17:04
2 minute read.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss

311_Micha Lindenstrauss. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus accepted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's request on Tuesday to investigate the Carmel Fire. Netanyahu made the request in a meeting he convened in his office of the ministerial committee on governmental oversight, which is headed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Netanyahu's office said Lindenstraus would submit his report to the government as soon as possible within the next four months. The ministerial committee gave relevant government ministries three months to report to Lindenstraus about changes they were making to fix problems and inadequacies that were revealed in his report last week
about the deficiencies in Israel's fire service.The Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday was discussing the possibility of establishing a state inquiry into the events surrounding last week's fatal Carmel fires.

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However, Chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee Yoel Hasson earlier on Tuesday announced that a vote on the establishment of a special state inquiry into the fire will not be held on Tuesday.

Hasson said that the vote will be held next week. As of Tuesday, there was not a majority in the State Control Committee to approve the Carmel inquiry.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the committee that he supports a state inquiry. He said, the "prime minister wants it to investigated in a state comptroller report. That reminds me of the previous government."

Yishai added that the previous government "wanted a state inquiry, but in the end there wasn't [one]. Also Kadima opposed the establishment of an inquiry."



The interior minister said that since he began serving in his current position, he "instructed the ministry's director-general to hold hearings, because I saw the problem with the emergency services."

However, despite his own support, Yishai has refused to impose his opinion on MK Amnon Cohen, Shas’s representative on the 11-member Knesset State Control Committee.

Cohen has consistently supported the government’s position, which opposes the establishment of a probe beyond the State Comptroller’s Report on the Fire and Rescue Services that was released last week.

Also in the Tuesday committee meeting, Hasson called the recently released State Comptroller's Report on the state of the Fire Services "harsh but important."

Hasson said that "the way to change the culture of decision-making in the state of Israel is by establishing a state inquiry that has the authority to impose personal responsibility."

The MK added that "being a minister doesn't just mean getting an office and a deer-skin Volvo seat, it's a responsibility. It is a culture that hasn't been accepted, it is a culture that short-changed lives."

Lindenstrauss told the committee that, "on a personal level, I feel there is a very significant problem with the implementation of state comptroller decisions." He explained that the comptroller's reports are not legally binding in any way.

"Our central weapon today is the public's confidence in the state comptroller," Lindenstrauss said. "It is only with this weapon that we are able to ask for the ratification of our findings," he added that he "does not think these tools are enough."

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