(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
While the Knesset delayed a decision on the future of an official probe
into the Carmel fire, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attempted to
stave off criticism Tuesday by calling on State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss to conduct an investigation into the incidents surrounding
the blaze that killed 43.
Lindenstraus accepted 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 Ne’eman.
Knesset c'tee likely to douse idea of gov’t fire probe
Hasson calls on PM to launch gov’t probe of Carmel fire
Lindenstrauss: 'Fire readiness falls on Yishai's shoulders'
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.
State Control Committee Chairman MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that in
another two weeks, Netanyahu would be asked to attend a hearing of his
committee in order to present a timetable for the completion of all of
the changes to the Fire and Rescue Services recommended by State
Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.
Faced with a majority in his committee opposing his proposal to
establish a ministerial investigative committee, Hasson (Kadima)
announced Tuesday afternoon that he would delay the vote on the proposal
until a later date. Following over four hours of heated debate within
the committee, which was attended by Interior Minister Eli Yishai,
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Lindenstrauss, Hasson announced that
the vote on the proposal would be held at some point during a session
of the committee within a week from Tuesday’s meeting.
Hasson said that the delay in the vote was in protest of changes to the
committee’s composition made by the House Committee – changes that would
ensure that the coalition held a strong majority to block the probe.
On Monday, the House Committee announced that it was appointing regular
stand-ins for committee members. Should MK Uri Ariel (National Union) be
absent from a vote, he would be replaced by Coalition Chairman MK Ze’ev
Elkin (Likud). This “unprecedented situation”, Hasson complained, would
further shift the balance in the committee in favor of the coalition.
Committee officials emphasized Tuesday that the vote could be held at
short notice at any point during any meeting of the committee in the
Meanwhile, at the Galilee Congress in Bet She’an, Opposition Chairwoman
Tzipi Livni blasted the situation in the committee. “We are witnesses to
a situation in which those responsible for the disaster are trying to
prevent an investigative committee, because, God forbid, such a
committee will determine who is responsible,” attacked Livni.
“If we determined in advance the division of responsibility in Israel,
then maybe we could reach a state in which those who are responsible
also pay the price through leaving their positions as soon as it is
apparent that there has been a catastrophe such as we witnessed,” Livni
added, reiterating calls made last week for Prime Minister Binyamin