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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
State Control Committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson sent a missive to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday morning calling on the premier to establish a governmental investigative commission to probe the Carmel fire.
Hasson called upon Netanyahu to get the cabinet to establish such a commission rather than having Hasson’s committee vote to establish one. Hasson’s committee toured the fire-impacted area Sunday in advance of a Tuesday meeting, during which they are scheduled to vote on whether to launch a government probe.
Netanyahu is known to oppose the establishment of a government-level probe, which is usually given the authority to call for action against those found to be culpable for systemic failures.
“The prime minister must wake up and overcome his political needs in order to save human lives,” said Hasson during the trip to the Carmel region. “If Netanyahu proposes establishing a government investigative commission through the approval of the government, I will remove it from the Knesset’s agenda. If he does not, however, the Knesset will be forced to establish such a probe.”
Despite Hasson’s threats, it was not at all certain Sunday that he had the six votes necessary in his committee to set up an investigative commission.
Just days after Interior Minister Eli Yishai came under withering criticism from the state comptroller for the state of the country’s fire-fighting services; Netanyahu praised him at Sunday’s cabinet meeting for making sure that the firefighters received a budget increase last year.
“In the near future I will bring to the government a draft resolution for a national firefighting authority,” Netanyahu said.
He said this was in addition to the decision taken before the Carmel Forest fire to budget another NIS 100 million to the firefighters, a decision he said was take following “vigorous appeals from the interior minister.”
The cabinet, meanwhile, created a bureaucratic shortcut for rehabilitating those hit by the fire by waiving the government’s normal procedures for issuing tenders for rebuilding efforts.
“In order to expedite and reduce the bureaucracy, we approved today a
fast track required for contracts for the rehabilitation process,”
Netanyahu said, adding that the process of issuing tenders is a long one
that can “cost us many months.”
Netanyahu said that over the last week the government worked
“intensively” to rehabilitate the communities damaged by the fire and to
assist those who were forced from their homes.
He said the government’s goals are as follows: rehabilitate the
communities impacted by the fire, deal with those evacuated from their
homes, rehabilitate the Carmel forest, establish a national
fire-fighting authority and set up an aerial fire-fighting force.