PM, interior minister try to fix relations over fire

Netanyahu, Yishai meet to resolve dispute over whether to form formal commission of inquiry over events leading to Carmel fire.

Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap (photo credit: Associated Press)
Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Tuesday in an effort to resolve their dispute over whether a formal commission of inquiry should be formed to investigate the events leading up to the Carmel forest fire.
Yishai’s spokesman said Netanyahu had not succeeded in persuading him to change his mind about the necessity of such a probe at the meeting and in five phone conversations on Monday. Netanyahu’s associates said he does not oppose forming a commission but that it was redundant, because State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus had already probed the issue.
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Sources close to Netanyahu had complained that Yishai had leaked documents to the press in an effort to shift blame for the fire disaster from himself to the prime minister.
A petition drive calling upon Yishai to quit escalated Tuesday under the banner “Everyone knows who is to blame for the debacle.” More than 30,000 people signed the petition.
A poll broadcast Tuesday found that 47 percent of Israelis believe Yishai should quit while 53% believe he should not. Asked about Netanyahu’s handling of the situation, 68% said he handled it well and 17% said he didn’t.

At a meeting of the Labor Party’s executive committee Tuesday night, Defense Minister Ehud Barak attempted to deflect blame for the IDF cutting funding for planes that can extinguish fires by saying that the international assistance Israel received proved that Israel was not isolated.