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The Winograd Committee will have to decide almost immediately whether or not to petition the High Court of Justice against the court's own decision ordering it to publish the censored protocols of its hearings, all of which were conducted behind closed doors.
In response to a petition filed by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On, the state promised the court that it would publish the censored protocols of the testimonies submitted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former chief of General Staff Dan Halutz before Pessah. The committee now has less than four days to do so.
In response to an earlier petition filed by Gal-On, the Winograd Committee told the High Court it intended to release the protocols after publishing the final report on its findings and recommendations. Gal-On had petitioned the High Court, demanding that it publish the protocols immediately.
A panel of three justices headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch accepted the petition on the grounds that once all information that might endanger national security was deleted from the protocols, the public's right to know and the principle of transparency outweighed any remaining security considerations.
However, the release of the first protocols last week touched off a public furor, particularly the statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Galilee and Negev Affairs Shimon Peres that he would not have gone to war against Hizbullah. Both Peres and former OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Malka criticized the publication of their testimonies.
On Wednesday, Olmert also declared that publication of the testimonies of security and defense officials would harm Israel's vital interests.
Earlier this week, the Winograd Committee made it clear once again, in response to the criticism by Peres and Malka, that it was only publishing the protocols because the High Court had ordered it to. The committee is now considering whether to petition the High Court to try to convince it, in the wake of the events that have transpired since the first protocols were released, to change its mind.
If the committee decides to petition, it must do so before Monday and hope that the High Court will hear and rule on the petition, or at least agree to extend the deadline.
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