Winograd report will 'sentence' leaders

Panel will recommend whether Olmert and Peretz should resign.

By ANSHEL PFEFFER,
March 14, 2007 10:34
3 minute read.
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The Winograd Commission's final report expected in the late summer will include full "personal recommendations" concerning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, as well as senior ministers and IDF officers on their conduct during the Lebanon War, a source close to the committee said Wednesday. The "partial" report to be published next month will contain a full judgment on the actions of Olmert, Peretz and former chief of General Staff Dan Halutz during the five-day period in July between the capture of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser and the official decision to launch the campaign against Hizbullah. Future recommendations regarding the three, however, will only appear in the final report.

  • Analysis: Question marks over Winograd The source called attention to the precise wording of the press announcement issued by the committee on Tuesday in which next month's report was referred to as a "partial" report rather than an "interim" report, as the media had called it. This attests that the findings on the leaders' decision-making in the first five days following the kidnapping are complete, the source said. Therefore, the committee members decided to present that part of the report to the public without delay, including organizational recommendations arising from those findings. Regarding the individuals involved - Olmert, Peretz and Halutz - the decision was to deliver the "verdict" as to their actions but to reserve the "sentencing" for the final report, which would describe their actions throughout the war. The source didn't discount the possibility that other parts of the report might be published in advance of the final version. Meanwhile, a Web site reported Wednesday that Peretz had told members of the committee during his testimony that he made a mistake in accepting the post of defense minister. According to the report on the News First Class site, Peretz told the committee members that he had initially wanted to be appointed finance minister, but Olmert had refused to grant him that portfolio and instead offered the Defense Ministry. The report further claimed that Peretz told the committee that in his opinion, a defense minister in Israel needed to have a strong military-defense background, which he does not. Tuesday's announcement was made after intense consultations between committee members, who were eager to set the record straight after conflicting media reports on their intentions. Also, according to the source, the fact that Olmert's July 17 speech was chosen as the end of the time period to be scrutinized in the partial report is no coincidence, since "the prime minister will be spotlighted in the report." In Jerusalem legal circles, there is a firm belief that committee member Prof. Ruth Gavison is the main influence on the writing of the report. According to the announcement, the partial report will include a chapter explaining "the committee's understanding of the rules of natural justice," and the final report will contain analyses of "the relationship between the political and military echelons" and "the general ethos of Israeli society and the connection between it and the challenges facing the state." Gavison is the only constitutional law expert on the panel and has dealt with such issues extensively over the years, both as an academic and a member of various public committees. Their inclusion is seen as a clear sign of her considerable influence on the committee. Over the last week, there have been leaks from the offices of both Olmert and Peretz about both their explanations of the circumstances of Peretz's appointment as defense minister. The fact the committee saw that as a significant issue, even though the appointment isn't directly connected to the war or part of the committee's official purview, is another sign of Gavison's influence, as she has written extensively on the question of senior officials' discretion. In related news, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told new recruits that although there had been problems during the Lebanon war, they were in training, and not in the units and their performance. "There were problems during the war," Ashkenazi told soldiers who were drafted into the Kfir Brigade. "The problems were not in the units and the way they fought, but in the training. We are now fixing the problems and we have increased the training regimens."

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