amnon lipkin-shahak .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Criticism was flowing across the political spectrum on Thursday regarding Defense Minister Amir Peretz's decision to establish an external inquiry commission to investigate the IDF's management and preparation for the war in Lebanon, as well as regarding Peretz's appointment of former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak to head the commission.
Lipkin-Shahak was Peretz's adviser during the war. Former IAF chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger, former Defense Ministry director-general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Biran, Logistics Directorate head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ami Sagis and Teva chairman Eli Hurvitz were also named to the commission.
Labor MK Danny Yatom said that there was a "large defect" in the appointment of the committee members, since some of them served as advisers to the defense minister during the war and therefore also have to defend their decisions.
Yatom called for a governmental committee to be established shows members would be officials from outside the political and military spheres. He wanted the proposed committee to be headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak.
Likud MK Yuval Steinitz also criticized Peretz's committee, saying it was an embarrassing procedure and with corrupt purposes - to prevent the formation of an external and serious committee.
Steinitz called for an external committee to be created to investigate the current and previous political leadership as well as the war itself. He advised that it be done only after all of the soldiers have returned to Israeli ground.
NU-NRP faction chairman, MK Uri Ariel, said, "Amir Peretz's committee represents escaping responsibility and spitting in the face of IDF soldiers. The public demands a real inquiry that would also probe the political echelon including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Peretz. The current committee will not do this."
Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin joined Ariel in his critique. "Peretz's decision to establish an external inquiry would not be accepted as a substitute for a state inquiry that would examine the political, military and social aspects of the second Lebanon war."
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Peretz's commission will check the IDF's level of preparedness prior to the war and investigate how well the General Staff and Northern Command performed from July 12 - the date of the kidnapping of two reservists - until August 14 when the cease-fire went into effect. It will publish its first report within three weeks.
Ever since the cease-fire, there have been widespread calls for such a commission. Many returning reservists complained about the army's alleged failure to supply water, food and equipment.
Defending the army against the claim that it was not sufficiently prepared for the war, OC Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel told Channel 1: "We were prepared. We could have prepared more, but we were busy with other things."
Material was insufficient, he said, because of cuts in the defense budget in recent years.
Labor MK, Matan Vilnai criticized the defense minister's decision saying, "The committee chosen by the minister of defense, while IDF forces have not yet left Lebanon, will potentially turn the army into a scapegoat," said the MK.
"We must not steer away from a thorough investigation, even if it will be difficult for the entire country to face," Vilnai continued.
The MK demanded that a new system be developed to determine the administration of the war.
Another anonymous Labor MK said the party was "extremely disappointed" by Peretz's actions. "This reeks of Peretz trying to avoid an inquiry," said the MK. "We, as a party, should not support it."
"There must be a thorough investigation, of the type past parliamentary committees have adopted, to probe this matter," said MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud).