Background: Self-imposed limitations of the report

If many believe Olmert, Peretz should quit, they will have to make it happen by dint of public pressure.

winograd members 298 gpo (photo credit: GPO)
winograd members 298 gpo
(photo credit: GPO)
Although the Winograd Committee's interim report is highly critical of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz, it does not include recommendations as to what measures, if any, should be taken against them. Thus, if a large enough portion of the public believes Olmert and Peretz should resign immediately in the wake of the committee's findings and conclusions, it will have to make it happen by dint of public pressure. Matters will remain this way at least until the summer, when the panel is due to release its final report, which may include recommendations for sanctions that should be applied against those held responsible for failures in the war and the events leading up to it.
The committee chose not to make "personal recommendations" at this stage, even though the cabinet resolution of September 17, 2006, gave it the power to do so. According to the government's decision, "the committee will investigate and determine the facts and conclusions and will also present recommendations, as it sees fit, involving the political echelon and the security system with regard to all the aspects of the campaign in the North." Apparently because of the urgency of the investigation and the fact that the interim report deals only with the events leading up to the war and the first five days of fighting, the committee refrained from issuing personal recommendations. If it decides to do so in its final report, it will have to send letters of caution to anyone who stands to be hurt by its findings, and give them time to hire lawyers, call new witnesses or cross-examine those whose testimony may have hurt their clients. This is a lengthy procedure that would substantially delay publication of the final report. The committee chose not to go through that process, at least for now. In a statement to the press issued on March 13, it said the interim report would include "detailed facts, conclusions regarding the performance of the systems involved, conclusions about the personal responsibility of the prime minister, the minister of defense and the outgoing chief of General Staff regarding the decisions they made before launching the campaign, and the way they were made, and operational recommendations regarding the administrative systems." Thus the only recommendations made in the interim report involve improvements or corrections in various administrative systems, such as the decision-making procedures within the Prime Minister's Office, staff work and consultations in the Defense Ministry, etc. According to Haaretz legal commentator Ze'ev Segal, the government is obliged to take these recommendations into consideration, but does not have to implement them. Some observers have warned that in the rush to find out just how "guilty" the committee finds the war leaders, the public will ignore the substantive analysis of the institutional failures in the preparation and handling of the war and what, according to the panel, needs to be done to correct them. Even if Olmert and Peretz go, who is to say that those who follow them will carry out the necessary systemic reforms? As for Olmert and Peretz, they have already made it clear they don't intend to resign in the wake of the committee's findings and conclusions. But it is already evident that the publication of the report will revive the public campaign to force them out of power that died down after the Winograd Committee was established.