Netanyahu: Those who failed can't stay to fix mistakes

Likud chairman calls for new leadership during special Winograd Knesset session, says Israeli public senses that system not functioning.

Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for a new leadership that would restore the public's trust in the government, declaring that those who failed at running the country during the Second Lebanon War could not fix the mistakes they themselves had made. Speaking at a special Knesset session on the Winograd war report, Netanyahu said that Israel's "values and spirit are its strength," and that during the war, the Israeli people had supported the decision to go to war and had believed in their leaders' ability to protect them. However, Netanyahu said, the public had since lost its faith in its leaders, who did not fulfill their obligations. There was a sense among the public, he said, that the system was not functioning properly. "The people gave their full support to the government to achieve the goals it had set, to remove the threat and protect its citizens. The leadership then failed…the government collapsed before our eyes," he said. "We must fix the main deficiency - the absence of leadership and responsibility, the absence of expertise, and the absence of the ability to make difficult and correct decisions," he said. "The state of Israel is yearning for a leadership like that." Netanyahu declared that Israel must use its power as a democratic state to listen to what the people want - namely, a government that will protect its citizens from the kinds of failures highlighted in the Winograd report. At the opening of the meeting, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik emphasized that the vast majority of the government had supported the decision to go to war last summer, including herself. The Winograd interim report, which was released on Monday, leveled damning criticism at the upper political and military echelons, particularly at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz. Calls for the government's resignation have abounded since the report's publication.