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(photo credit: AP [file])
Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for a new leadership that would restore the public's trust in the government, declaring that those who failed at running the country during the Second Lebanon War could not fix the mistakes they themselves had made.
Speaking at a special Knesset session on the Winograd war report, Netanyahu said that Israel's "values and spirit are its strength," and that during the war, the Israeli people had supported the decision to go to war and had believed in their leaders' ability to protect them.
However, Netanyahu said, the public had since lost its faith in its leaders, who did not fulfill their obligations. There was a sense among the public, he said, that the system was not functioning properly.
As such, he said, Israel must use its power as a democratic state to listen to what the people want - namely, a government that will protect its citizens from the kinds of failures highlighted in the Winograd report.
At the opening of the meeting, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik emphasized that the vast majority of the government had supported the decision to go to war last summer, including herself.
The Winograd interim report, which was released on Monday, leveled damning criticism at the upper political and military echelons, particularly at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz.
Calls for the government's resignation have abounded since the report's publication.
Prior to the Knesset session, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments at the Likud faction meeting, saying that the current government "has lost the trust of the public, if it had any to begin with. Therefore, we need to return to the public so it can speak for itself."
MK Gideon Sa'ar said at the Likud meeting that the government "exists by law, but has lost its moral mandate. The only solution is the resignation of the government and new elections."
MK Silvan Shalom, meanwhile, noted that it had been one year since the government was elected.
"We all thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, but we now know that the longer this government stays in place, the lower we will sink," he said.
He added that it was clear that the government could not handle the threat of Iran and Syria while protecting the periphery, and therefore, for the safety of Israel, must be sent home.
All of the Likud MKs who spoke slammed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for failing to step down, and stressed that the current government could not implement the Winograd Committee's recommendations.
During the Knesset session, some of the most vocal criticism of Olmert came from within the coalition itself. Labor MK Danny Yatom called on all Labor ministers to follow MK Eitan Cabel's example and resign.
Yatom declared that the government had failed and that it was time to give the people a chance to elect new leaders.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres declared his support for the government and said it was the government's duty to remain in office and implement the Winograd report's recommendations.
Meanwhile, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said that she was sorry that Peretz did not take her advice and resign immediately, as it was reported he was considering on Wednesday.
Yacimovich told Israel Radio that she had urged Peretz to quit not only because of the Winograd report, but because his association with the Olmert government was tarnishing his reputation with the public.