PM: This gov't made mistakes, this gov't will fix them

Olmert: Serious mistakes were made - mainly by me; PM intends to appoint special team to study report; Peres: No need to disband gov't.

halutz olmert peretz (photo credit: IDF [file])
halutz olmert peretz
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Israel's government made mistakes in the management of the Second Lebanon War, and the government would work to fix them, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday evening in a statement some hours after the Winograd Committee into the Second Lebanon War announced that it held the prime minister personally responsible for the failures of the war. Olmert said that he intended to convene on Wednesday a special cabinet meeting, during which he would appoint a special team to study the 300-page report intensively. "Serious mistakes were made, mainly by me," Olmert admitted. Nevertheless, he reiterated his statement earlier to a meeting of Kadima ministers earlier that he did not intend to resign. "It would be wrong," he declared. The prime minister added that his thoughts were with the bereaved families who had lost loved ones in the war, which he called "justified and unpreventable." Olmert said that he was thinking of "Udi [Goldwasser], Eldad [Regev], and Gilad Schalit," and hoped that Israel would bring them home quickly. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that attempts to hold her personally responsible for mistakes made in the war were futile. "An effort was made to drag me into the personal-political arena but I do not plan to play in this arena," said. "I will address only the content of the report and I tell you [the public] what I have personally told the prime minister: This is not a personal issue, we are talking about the future of the state and about the challenges that face us and these things are more important than both of us," wrote Livni in a press release. "The report looks harsh. It is apparent that we will have to establish new norms regarding the decision-making process." "There are those that spoke of self-examination, but the only thing that can be done at this point is to learn from the lessons of the report's findings." Meanwhile, representatives from both the Right and the Left reacted to the findings which harshly criticized Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and former IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz over the failures of the Second Lebanon War. Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that there was neither a need nor the requisite majority in the Knesset to disband the government and hold elections. "A government is not a PR firm," Peres said. "It has to make decisions." "What should we do? Enter a crisis?" he asked Channel 10 interviewers. "Elections would serve no purpose," he added. MK Yoel Hasson, also a member of Kadima, concurred with Peres. "Nasrallah did not succeed in winning the war, it is better not to let him win now" MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said. "It is worthwhile to read the report thoroughly and not to turn it into a political instrument." Hasson continued, saying that "it is the prime minister's responsibility to implement the necessary changes in the make-up of the government."
Labor MK Matan Vilna'i said that "this is the hour of judgment for the state of Israel and its government. This is not the time to sever heads or to have political struggles." According to Vilna'i, "The public will establish the futures of the men [who bear responsibility]. The only way to prevent failing management such as that discovered in the last war is to internalize the lessons and to instill them into the future. Comments from Likud Knesset faction leader MK Gideon Sa'ar were more critical. "The conclusions that one derives from the report is thus: This failed government has no more ethical validity to remain in office," Sa'ar said. "It must return the mandate to the people immediately." "We must turn the report into a starting point for an internal war," said Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai of Shas. "The report needs to be a starting point for all Israelis to join the struggle in a resurrection. Following leaks of the report over the weekend, Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines called on Sunday for Olmert and Peretz to "stand up, take responsibility, and resign." Paz-Pines told Army Radio that he urged Olmert and Peretz to make the sacrifice, because "the society and state [were] paying the price" of their remaining in office. MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said Sunday that the entire government, beginning with Olmert and Peretz, was responsible for the failures of the Second Lebanon War. "Whoever sits in the prime minister's or defense minister's seat is responsible, from that moment, and can't say his hands were clean," Yatom said. "All the decisions made during the war were the results of [Olmert and Peretz's] decisions, and therefore we can't cut Olmert, Peretz, or the government any slack."