Mofaz: Management failed in 2nd Lebanon War

Says it was the same army and same commanders who fought in operation Defensive Shield, and won.

Mofaz 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Mofaz 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Two weeks before the publication of the final Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has attacked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of the conflict. Speaking at an event sponsored by the Geneva Initiative on Saturday evening, Mofaz rejected recent attempts to blame the IDF and its top officers for the failures of the war. He said the blame lied instead with the political echelon. "The main problem with the war was its confused and failed management," Mofaz said. "It's the same army and the same officers who fought in Operation Defensive Shield [in the West Bank] four years earlier and won." Mofaz was defense minister for five years, up until four months before the war, and he was IDF chief of General Staff for three years before that. Mofaz said the war's failures had nothing to do with the army's preparations ahead of the conflict. In criticism aimed at Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was the force behind the drafting of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the war, Mofaz said that despite the resolution, Hizbullah was stronger now than before the conflict. "Resolution 1701 is not worth the paper it was written on," he said. Mofaz's spokeswoman said he had issued the same exact criticism many times over the last few months. But she understood that the words were now being interpreted differently due to the proximity to Winograd's release. If the report is harsh, Mofaz could be among the Olmert critics who urge him to quit. If Olmert resigned under pressure, Mofaz would challenge Livni and other candidates for the Kadima leadership. On Thursday, Kadima activists who identified themselves as Mofaz supporters plastered posters bearing his likeness near the party's Petah Tikva headquarters. The posters urged Mofaz to run for party leader. Mofaz's associates said they had no idea who the activists were. They said they had considered the possibility that the posters were put up by provocateurs loyal to Olmert or another political foe aiming to harm Mofaz's reputation. Polls published over the weekend reported that if Olmert were forced to step down as prime minister and he were replaced by a Kadima MK, most of the public would prefer Livni. A Dahaf Institute poll published in Yediot Aharonot found that 50 percent of respondents wanted Livni to head Kadima, followed by Olmert (17%), Mofaz (15%) and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (4%). A Teleseker poll in Ma'ariv that asked the same question gave Livni 34.5%, Mofaz 11.4%, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter 8.9%, Olmert 6.4% and Sheetrit 5.4%. Asked who they would like to see become prime minister if Livni became head of Kadima, both polls found that the top candidate was Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, followed by Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak. The Teleseker poll put Netanyahu at 40.5%, Livni at 21.7% and Barak at 16.4%. In the Dahaf poll, Netanyahu received 35%, followed by "none of the above" with 28%, Livni with 18% and Barak in fourth place with 16%.•