The resignation of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz will not lead to the departures of the other two men who led Israel to war in Lebanon, sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz vowed on Wednesday. They said they were not worried about being brought down by the domino effect that has already resulted in the departures of Halutz, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam and Galilee Brigade Commander Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch. "As defense minister, my intention is to continue the mission," Peretz said on Wednesday night in a speech at a graduation for naval commanders in Haifa.
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Sources close to both men said they were waiting for the release of the interim findings of the Winograd Commission at the end of next month, which they believe will clear them of wrongdoing in the war in Lebanon. Olmert and Peretz are expected to be questioned by the commission over the next two weeks.
"Winograd will decide whether or not there will be a domino effect," an Olmert associate said. "The tribunal, established to make decisions, is where his fate will be determined."
Peretz's associates said they hoped Halutz's departure would help end the recent feuding between Olmert and Peretz, because their fates were intertwined.
"Maybe the domino effect has stopped because the two men need each other," a source close to Peretz said. "We don't play grudge games, and he wants to get along with the prime minister because it's important for the security of the state."
Peretz's closest allies among the Labor MKs, faction chairman Yoram Marciano and Education Minister Yuli Tamir, have told him in recent days that it would help restore his image as a fighter for the poor, as well as his chances in the May 28 Labor primary, if he were to leave the Defense Ministry and accept an enhanced socioeconomic portfolio.
Peretz's aides mocked Marciano and Tamir for "having no military understanding."
At a rally for Peretz's political rival, former prime minister Ehud Barak, United Kibbutz Movement secretary-general Ze'ev Shore, who heads the largest sector among Labor members, joined the call for Peretz to accept a socioeconomic portfolio and leave the Defense Ministry.
Olmert has been talking to Labor MKs and ministers over the past few weeks to hear from them ideas on how to convince Peretz to leave the portfolio, ideally as part of a cabinet reshuffle after the January 31 verdict in the trial of former justice minister Haim Ramon, but if not, then no later than the release of the Winograd Commission's findings.
Politicians from across the political spectrum called upon both Olmert and Peretz to follow in Halutz's footsteps and resign. They said Halutz could teach them a lesson about taking responsibility for their roles in the war.
A Smith Research poll broadcast on Channel 10 found that 69 percent of Israelis want Olmert to quit and 26% do not. Some 85% want Peretz to quit and only 13% do not. Respondents were divided about whether Israel needs new elections, with 33% saying yes and 32% no.