'Officials at top of pyramid should take responsibility'

Lindenstrauss: Officials at highest level of government should take responsibility for failures during the war.

lindenstrauss 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
lindenstrauss 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
It is the responsibility of elected officials to take heed of their failures and act accordingly, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Sunday in what is being viewed as an indirect comment on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's responsibility to the findings of the Winograd Committee's report. "Responsibility should not be laid at the feet of sergeants or officers, but rather at the top of the pyramid," Lindenstrauss said at the Herzliya Conference's panel on the Winograd Report. He added that officials at the highest level of Israel's government should take responsibility for failures during the war. Placing blame and demanding personal conclusions are part of the policy led by the state comptroller's office, said Lindenstrauss. His close associates said that he was directly referring to the Winograd Report when he added, "the 'gatekeeper' is not to blame - whoever is at the top of the pyramid or close to the head of the pyramid is to blame." With the publication of the report, expected January 30, senior officials have increased speculation over how much blame will be cast on the army and political echelons for failures during the Second Lebanon War. The Winograd Committee's interim report, published last April, was extremely critical of the government's actions during the first six days of the war. Olmert, former defense minister Amir Peretz and former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz all came under fire. Sources close to the Winograd Committee said the final report was likely to be more critical of the IDF than of political figures. "I believe that heavy criticism will be levied at all those who made decisions during the war," said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, who has lobbied the government over the poor treatment of reserve soldiers during the war. Dayan added that it was his belief that all of the officials, including Olmert, Peretz and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, would be held accountable for "poor decisions" made during the war. While Dayan made it clear that in his opinion the current government should be forced to leave office due to their failures during the war, many have speculated that the Winograd Report will not be enough to topple Olmert's coalition. Israel Beiteinu's resignation from the government last week left Olmert with a coalition of 67 out of 120 Knesset members. Recent statements by Shas's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef indicate that Shas is not likely to leave the coalition over the report, and sources close to Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak said that Labor was not likely to leave the coalition anytime soon. "This report needs to be a time of reckoning, but not necessarily a rush to action," said former justice minister Dan Meridor. On Monday, the Herzliya Conference will hold additional discussions on the Winograd Report and its implications when it leaves its current rooms in the parliament for its traditional home in Herzliya. Hundreds of activists protested outside the Knesset Sunday over the decision to hold the opening day of the Herzliya Conference in the parliament. Protesters said that hosting a privately-funded conference in the Knesset set a dangerous precedent for governmental reports and oversight committees to be regularly outsourced to private organizations rather than conducted by state employees.