The Winograd report is harsh and calls for personal conclusions to be made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, candidate for Labor party chair Ehud Barak said Tuesday in his first press conference since the release of the interim report on the Second Lebanon War. "The chief of general staff internalized its conclusions. The defense minister internalized them in his own way. I believe that Olmert will find his own way of doing so," said Barak.
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Barak said that if Olmert will internalize the report's findings, the road to a new government "that [he] could participate in" could be paved. If Olmert did not draw conclusions by May 29 (the date of the Labor primaries), warned Barak, he would act to bring forward the elections for the eighteenth Knesset.
Barak volunteered to "contribute" his experience to a transitional government that would serve before elections. Such a move, he added, would fulfill a "promise" he made to "serve as defense minister."
Barak spoke at Kibbutz Sdot Yam at the first campaign event to which the press has been invited since he declared his candidacy six months ago.
Other candidates competing for the chair criticized Barak's speech, accusing him of making blurred comments.
Ophir Paz-Pines said that "the public is sick of the ambiguity and vagueness of Barak and wants to get clear answers from its leaders."
"Against Barak's ambiguity I intend to bring to the Labor's central committee a clear proposal that calls for: One - Olmert to quit; and two - Labor to lead the government if he doesn't quit."
"Ehud Barak continues to leave the voters in the fog," said MK Dani Yatom. "He must say loud an clear whether Olmert should quit as I do."
MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) accused Barak of attempting to take contradictory steps by hinting that Olmert should step down, but also offer to join his government as defense minister until the elections.
"Olmert cannot continue to head the state and Barak's participation in his government will prevent the Labor party from becoming an alternative to the present administration," said Gal-On.
On Monday, Barak vigorously denied the reports of conversations with Labor ministers in which he had said he wouldn't join Olmert's government, assuring them that he had made no such decision.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.