Bibi: 'Amateurish' PM must resign

Says Winograd report proves he must step down; Likud officials charge media collaborated with PM.

winograd promo 224 (photo credit: )
winograd promo 224
(photo credit: )
Labor chairman Ehud Barak must insist on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's departure following the publication of the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. Netanyahu said the failures the committee noted in its report and the fact that most of the nation believes that Olmert must resign obligated him to do so. "Olmert refuses to take responsibility, to demonstrate personal honesty and leadership and to do what most of the public expect him to do," Netanyahu said. "The prime minister is emptying of content the concept of responsibility. The people of Israel know today that they are led by a prime minister who is not qualified or fit to lead them. Barak knows this and he knows that the public expects him to ensure that this failed leadership does not continue." Netanyahu accused Olmert of "running from responsibility" after losing a war in which his government had unprecedented national and international support and an unprecedented advantage over its enemy in Israel's longest battle since the War of Independence. He rejected attempts to blame the IDF for the war's failures. "The IDF warriors fought heroically," Netanyahu said. "An amateur government is responsible for the failure." Netanyahu did not take questions from reporters, but he did raise a series of rhetorical questions about Olmert's insistence that he be the one to fix the problems raised in the report. "The claim that the person who made the mistakes should be the one to fix them is fundamentally crazy," Netanyahu said. "Would you trust a surgeon who failed? Or a bus driver who caused a fatal accident? But this government is running from the will of the people and its pain." Likud officials close to Netanyahu accused the press of collaborating with Olmert to create a perception that the report was less harsh than it really was. They noted that Channel 2 refused to allow a Likud representative on their highly-rated 8 p.m. news alongside Vice Premier Haim Ramon. Ramon used his monopoly to accuse Netanyahu of perpetuating a "blood libel" against Olmert that he sacrificed the lives of the 33 soldiers who died in the last 60 hours of the war for his own political gain. The Likud sent Channel 2 a response to Ramon, but it was aired only at the end of the newscast. The Likud officials said Netanyahu in fact never made such accusations. Netanyahu made a point of not responding to the charges in his press conference. "The spin against Netanyahu was intended to distract the public from Olmert's failings," a Likud official said. "There was an unprecedented mobilization of the press to help Olmert and it's too bad." Former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon, who was also attacked by Olmert's loyalists, declined to respond. People close to him said he did not want to be part of the political discourse. Kadima MKs loyal to Olmert bashed Netanyahu for his comments. Coalition chairman Eli Aflalo called Netanyahu "shameless" and accused him of "chutzpa" and of having a "selective memory." "The people of Israel who threw out Netanyahu because of his failed and deceitful behavior and divisiveness see a frustrated man who tried to explain why he has been left alone with a failed campaign by rolling his eyes and waving his hands," Aflalo said. MK Yoel Hasson called upon Netanyahu to join the government and take Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman's former role as minister of strategic affairs. "A committee is not needed to know that Bibi is not fit to be prime minister," Hasson said. "He proved that in the past. Bibi should show responsibility, stop using Winograd as a political opportunity and join the government."