Ya'alon, Olmert blame each other for war

Former chief of General Staff tells Post to expect showdown upon his return.

Former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and his own successor, Dan Halutz, and hinted that he would soon enter politics in an interview with Channel 1's Washington correspondent Yaron Deckel Monday night. Ya'alon has completed a fellowship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and will return Thursday to begin a fellowship at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based think tank, and to write a book on security strategy. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has tried to recruit Ya'alon to give his party a boost from a respected security man at a time when there is renewed public interest in former generals holding senior government positions. Ya'alon gave the impression he was Likud-bound in the interview. "Unfortunately this [war] reflects ills that must be dealt with," Ya'alon said. "I expect those who should take responsibility to take responsibility and not shift it to those who are under them." That comment was aimed at Olmert, Peretz and Halutz, who have all tried to blame IDF officers. Ya'alon was a popular speaker on the Jewish circuit during his time in the US. Senior American Jewish leaders encouraged him to run for Knesset. Asked whether he intended to enter politics, Ya'alon told Deckel he "would not rule it out," but added that he "is not excited by it." "I will make my voice heard," Ya'alon said. "The question of how to do that concerns me. I am not sure how to do it. I will do what is right for the people of Israel." Deckel said that when the cameras were not rolling, Ya'alon was more blunt and suggested that Olmert, Peretz and Halutz should all resign. Olmert spokesman Assaf Shariv said the prime minister was not "shifting blame to anyone." An Olmert associate blamed Ya'alon for allowing Hizbullah to stockpile thousands of rockets near Lebanon's border with Israel. "The only person in Israel who served in the key positions of OC Intelligence, deputy chief of General Staff and chief of General Staff in the days when Hizbullah amassed its arsenal was Moshe Ya'alon," the Olmert associate said. "He laid the groundwork for the war in the North, not Olmert." Reached on his cellphone in Washington, Ya'alon told The Jerusalem Post he would respond to the statements by Olmert's associates after he returned.