Ivri, Ya'ari to be replaced on war probe

Ex-generals removed due to conflict of interests; PM to announce replacements.

mazuz 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
mazuz 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's efforts to set up three different investigative committees‚ to probe the war in Lebanon, rather than a State Commission of Inquiry, hit another snag Tuesday when two members of the committee to look into the political echelon's conduct of the war were disqualified because of conflict of interest. Attorney General Menahem Mazuz informed the Prime Minister's Office that David Ivri and Yedidya Ya'ari could not take part in the committee. Mazuz's opinion came the same day the Supreme Court ordered the state to respond to a petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel against their appointments. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'ari, a former navy commander, is president of Rafael, the armaments development authority which has the Defense Ministry as a client. And Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ivri represents Boeing in Israel, which reportedly supplied helicopters and bombs during the war. The other members of the committee, headed by former Mossad head Nahum Admoni, are Prof. Ruth Gavison and Prof. Yehezkel Dror. Olmert's office issued a statement thanking Ivri and Ya'ari for their willingness to take part in the committee and saying that they would be replaced shortly. Olmert's announcement last week that he wanted to set up three committees to probe the war has not put an end to calls for a full-blown state commission. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus, who Olmert said would probe the preparedness of the home front, was angered by the way Olmert foisted the job on him, and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who was to head the committee looking into the defense establishment, stepped down after Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who first appointed him, said he favored a state commission. A cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday that some cabinet ministers expected would approve the establishment of the committees was postponed on Tuesday. A spokesman for Olmert, however, said that the cabinet was scheduled to discuss the budget, not the investigative committees, and its postponement had nothing to do with the problems setting up the committees. Meanwhile, the Movement for Quality Government is also planning on holding a massive public demonstration Saturday night in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, calling on the government to establishment a state commission. Organizers hope that tens of thousands of people will turn out for the apolitical event.