olmert talking 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Monday's first meeting of the Knesset's investigative committee into the violence at Amona was intended to be procedural, but political jockeying quickly came into play when the committee announced that it would call Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to testify 10 days before the national elections next month.
The move was seen as an effort to undermine the Kadima leader, whose victory in the elections has been widely anticipated by polls.
According to its mandate, the investigative committee will meet as a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee until the next Knesset is formed. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) will head the panel, with Matan Vilna'i (Labor), Uri Ariel (National Union) and Ilan Shalgi (Arrow) also serving.
"This committee is not political, we are launching an investigation because we need to know what happened in Amona," said Steinitz, who has criticized Olmert in the past. "We will ensure that we function as a politically balanced team."
In its first meeting, the committee decided to call Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz, chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, Chief of Police Moshe Karadi, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, and the leaders of the Yesha Council in addition to Olmert.
When the Knesset voted to launch the committee last week, Olmert promised to dismantle it if he were elected prime minister in the upcoming elections.
"We would force the acting prime minister to show up, it would be unacceptable for him to decline," said Steinitz.