Winograd report expected soon after petition rejected

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected two petitions protesting the Winograd Committee's decision to include facts, conclusions and recommendations pertaining only to institutions and not to individuals involved in the conduct of the Second Lebanon War. The decision clears away the last obstacle standing in the way of the committee's intention of publishing its final report at the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008. "It can be said immediately that from reading the material in the petitions before us, it emerges that the current position of the Winograd Committee contradicts its position in the past, as expressed in its interim report and in earlier High Court procedures," wrote Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Edna Arbel and Hanan Meltzer. "Nevertheless, we have not been convinced at this stage of the committee's work that there is a legal reason for this court to intervene. Therefore, we have decided to reject the petitions." The first petition was filed by the Movement for Quality Government on October 19. It demanded that the committee hand down personal conclusions and recommendations so that specific individuals would be held responsible for the failures in the war's management. The second petition was filed by the military defender, who demanded that the committee send letters of caution to those who would be indirectly harmed by its findings. The state argued that there was no law obliging the Winograd Committee to come up with personal conclusions or recommendations and that it did not have to send letters of caution to those who might be indirectly hurt by them. The court found that the committee had indeed changed its mind over time. After indicating that it had the right to make personal recommendations and that certain situations obliged it to, it had decided in the end not to make them. "The question of whether the final report will include personal conclusions and recommendations or will make do with conclusions and recommendations on a systemic level is up to the Winograd Committee, in accordance with the provisions of its mandate," wrote the court. According to the mandate's wording, "the committee will examine and determine facts and conclusions and will also submit recommendations to the extent that it feels it necessary to do so." Regarding the military defender's petition, the court wrote that until the final report was actually published, the court could not determine whether its contents included statements that would cause injury to individuals and thereby give them the right to be warned and to defend themselves.