Monday, April 30, 2007

Olmert further weakened by war report

The much anticipated Winograd report, released today, accuses Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of "severe failure" in exercising judgment, responsibility and caution during the outset of the war.

The report, which is the official assessment of Israel's performance in last summer's Lebanon war, comes from from a government appointed commission with retired judge Eliyahu Winograd as its head.

It comes at a time when Olmert has already been weakened politically by the IDF's lack of success against Hizbollah. The war was unprecedented in the state's short but busy military history, and is widely felt to be an unacceptable humiliation in Israel.

Olmert's future looks uncertain and it is likely to be decided by this report, the public's reaction to it and the political maneuvering which is sure to follow.

There has been as of yet no mutiny within Olmert's Kadima party, though members increasingly view the Prime Minister as a political liability. In advance of the report other parties within the Knesset have been sparring over placing blame on government. Within this climate there is a real possibility that of a no confidence vote within the Knesset. The Likud Knesset faction leader MK Gideon Sa'ar has already called for the government to step down over the affair.

The report is also harshly critical of Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Dan Halutz, the army chief of staff at the time of the war. This could also have effects on the dynamics within the Labor party, of which Peretz is the head.

How the effects of the report will play out as of yet unclear, with a variety of scenario's for Israel's future political landscape possible.


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