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January 18, 2008
Olmert will not lose his job over War Critique Report
For more than a year, the Winograd Committee in Israel has been examining what went wrong in the war with Hezb'allah two summers ago. Leaks from the Commissions deliberations have been very hard on the army - especially former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz who came in for some very rough criticism for his overuse of the air force during the war.
But the big question was whether Prime Minister Olmert would be so damaged by the report that he would be forced to resign. Apparently, the Committee will not recommend such a course of action nor will they single Olmert out for especially tough criticism:
The Winograd Committee has reportedly decided not to take an overly harsh tone with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in its final report after a serious dispute on the matter. There is still a chance that Labor Party leader Ehud Barak will make some trouble for Olmert. But it is not likely that Olmert can be forced out unless his own party - Kadima - revolts. And given the state of his coalition party, it is doubtful that they would take such a drastic step.
Committee member Prof. Yehezkel Dror demanded a tough stance, which would "place a loaded gun on Olmert's table" and force him to resign, Channel 2 reported on Thursday night. The other four members agreed that a harsh report was required, but argued that most of the responsibility for Israel's performance lay with the army, not the prime minister. Dror then insisted that his opinion be noted in the final report as a "minority position," but this was also rejected by the others.
Channel 2 reported that the dispute escalated to the point where some of the members threatened to disband the committee. However, Dror eventually accepted the majority's ruling. Ahead of the January 30 release of the report, Olmert has formed a team to help him survive its political aftermath made up of Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel, Vice Premier Haim Ramon and coalition chairman Eli Aflalo.
So Olmert survives for now. But the hue and cry that will arise after the Winograd Report is released in 2 weeks will shake the military and probably the government to their very foundations.