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Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Netanyahu insists on state inquiry into war
Mounting pressure on government to set up state commission into Lebanon war deficiencies as opposition leader says lesson should be drawn to guarantee better results in next round

Opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu called on the government to authorize a state commission to probe deficiencies in the army's and the government's conduct in the war with Hizbullah.

 

Speaking on Channel 2 TV, Netanyahu said: "I say this unexcitedly, there must be a probe. The government itself said so. We have to prevent a hopeless situation the next time."

 

Netanyahu said the scale of the failures in stemming rocket fire and in assisting northern residents during 34-days of fighting require an inquiry.

 

Asked whether his calls are aimed at smearing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government for political gain, Netanyahu said his Likud party stood behind the government throughout the war but now that the fighting ended, criticism is legitimate.

 

Netanyahu rejected claims that cuts to the defense budget over the last four years impaired the army's level of preparedness for war, arguing that under his tenure as finance minister between 2003 and 2005 the defense budget increased.

 

Olmert's days are short

"The problem is not to find the guilty but to draw lessons. The lessons are what we should do ahead of the next round. If we don't draw lessons, not only will we have a second round but it will end badly," Netanyahu said.

 

Asked whether he trusts Olmert's leadership in securing a safer and stronger Israel, Netanyahu said he won't be dragged into finger pointing at political rival, choosing instead to outline what he believes are five pressing issues for Israel: ensuring Iran doesn't acquire nuclear arms, strengthening the Israel Defense Forces, rehabilitating the north, implementing economic reforms and abolishing endemic corruption and bureaucracy in state institutions.

 

Netanyahu sounded pessimistic when asked if his Likud party would join Kadima as a coalition partner if the current coalition with Labor breaks up. Netanyahu charged that Kadima lacks a clear vision for Israel as evident in Olmert declaration that his realignment plan of withdrawing thousands of settlers from the West Bank is no longer on the government's agenda.

 

He said the current government won't be in power till the end of its term, expressing his confidence in Likud's ability to "lead the public to a better and more secure future."

 

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