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Amir Peretz
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Ehud Barak. 'Should answer tough questions'
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Peretz blames predecessors for war's failings
Former defense minister holds press conference in Tel Aviv, defends his decision to go to war against Hizbullah; Peretz claims he paid heavy political price for his predecessors' failings, pointing finger at Barak, Mofaz

"The decision to go to war was right," former Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Thursday in a press conference in Tel Aviv.

 

Peretz stated that his predecessors should have been held accountable for much of the failings revealed in the war, pointing the finger particularly at former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and former Defense Minister and current Labor Chairman Ehud Barak.

 

"There are tough questions regarding the six years prior to the war. This needs to be investigated further. Mofaz remained silent and did not alert about the failings (during his term in office). I have paid a heavy political price for years of failed policy.

 

"These questions should be presented to those who stated that the IDF needs to be a small and clever army, and thus jumpstarted the dynamics that led us to this catastrophe; and to those who decided that Israel could withdraw from Lebanon without an agreement, while abandoning our Christian allies and creating a vacuum that drew Hizbullah in."

 

Peretz added cynically, "I regret the fact that in the two months I had served in office (before the war broke out) I didn't get a chance to address the problem of bomb shelters."

 

The former minister stressed the importance of the role the home front played during the war, saying, "The introduction of rocket fire into the campaign has completely changed the face of future campaigns and allocated a much greater role to the home front.

 

"On the eve of the Second Lebanon War Hizbullah perceived the home front as Israel's weak point… knowing that the concerns of politicians over the last 10 years have completely paralyzed their ability to make decisions."

 

According to Peretz, "Before I left the Defense Ministry, I presented to the government a comprehensive plan to deal with the home front, a plan that has been formulated with Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. This plan addresses the concerns of Israel's citizens and includes the establishing of a national emergency authority, which I hear has received much praise."

 

Peretz's statements came against the backdrop of the final Winograd Report released Wednesday that did not contain any individual findings regarding senior members of the political echelon.

 

The long-awaited report minced no words with the army, laying most of the blame for the unsatisfactory outcome of the war on the IDF's shoulders while largely absolving the political echelon of culpability.

 

''The overall image of the war was a result of a mixture of flawed conduct of the political and military leadership ... of flawed performance by the military, especially the ground forces, and of deficient Israeli preparedness,'' Winograd said. ''We found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning," the report stated.

 

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