Peretz won't quit over Winograd

Defense minister rejects committee's claims that he weakened the government.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Defense Minister Amir Peretz dismissed calls for his resignation Monday night, standing by his claim that during the Second Lebanon War he "brought a positive approach" to the Defense Ministry and even assisted the military in coming up with creative ways for fighting Hizbullah. A statement issued by his office said that Peretz appreciated the Winograd Committee's work and planned to study the report. Peretz convened his top advisers for consultations after receiving the report on Monday afternoon. He decided to remain in office and to continue running in the Labor Party primaries, scheduled for the end of May, aides said. "There was criticism in the report but there were also positive comments made about Peretz," said one official close to the minister. "He plans to remain in office, to run for the Labor Party leadership and to continue rehabilitating the IDF." The Winograd Report slammed Peretz for his lack of experience and military knowledge, and claimed that his appointment as defense minister had "weakened" the government's ability to deal with the challenges posed by the Second Lebanon War. "The defense minister did not work to fill the gap in knowledge and experience and did not operate within the overall strategic framework he was responsible for," the report claimed. "Therefore, the defense minister's tenure and performance during the conflict weakened the government's abilities to deal with the challenges posed by the war." Peretz's attorney, former MK Yossi Katz, said that everyone who attended the strategic meeting on Monday night agreed that he should not resign before the May 28 Labor primary. Peretz is expected to make a public statement on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by strategists Ronen Tzur and Motti Morel, Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle, MK Nadia Hilu, former MK Haggai Merom and Peretz's daughter and adviser, Shani. "Everyone agreed that the report was comprehensive and very complimentary," Katz said. "There is an election coming up in Labor anyway, and Peretz has said that regardless of whether he wins, he will leave the Defense Ministry." Peretz, the report said, should have consulted more with professional elements in his office such as the Diplomatic-Military Bureau under retired general Amos Gilad. "His lack of experience and knowledge prevented him from serving as an authority over the army," the report read. "By this, the defense minister failed in his position." According to the report, during the two months Peretz was in his post before war erupted, he failed to inspect and review the IDF's level of preparedness for war. The report further accused Peretz of being led blindly by the IDF during the war and not demanding alternative operational plans. The report claimed that Peretz did not have any influence on strategic decisions made by the military and diplomatic echelon during the war. "The decision not to demand a real strategic discussion is a serious failure," the report said. "He did not even demand a real strategic decision - either with the military or the diplomatic echelon," the report concluded. "This was despite the fact that under his responsibility was one of the most experienced organizations - the IDF - and despite the fact that the Military-Diplomatic Bureau operated independently in his office."