Photo: Yaron Brener
Amir Peretz speaks
Photo: Yaron Brener
Photo: Niv Calderon
Shaul Mofaz
Photo: Niv Calderon
Photo: AFP
Soldiers return
Photo: AFP
Photo: Reuters
Difficult questions from war
Photo: Reuters
Peretz: 'Experienced ones' left difficult situation
At award ceremony in Herzliya, defense minister explicitly criticizes his predecessor Shaul Mofaz. 'In spite of my inexperience, I firmly deal with difficult situation left by experienced ones,' he says
Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday evening explicitly criticized his predecessor Shaul Mofaz: "I can say one thing in the clearest manner – in spite of my in experience, I have firmly dealt with the difficult situation left by the experiences ones."


Peretz spoke during an award ceremony at the "Air Force House" in Herzliya.


He said that the political echelon should also be investigated "without bias" over the decisions it made and its considerations regarding the war in Lebanon.


"I too am willing to be inquired, want to be inquired and ask to be inquired," he said.


Peretz announced that he was still seriously considering the issue of a state commission of inquiry, signaling to his friends at the Labor faction who support such a commission. According to the defense minister, such a commission could be established in the future.


"As for the type of commission that will do so, this should be considered in favor of the issue, in favor of the State of Israel. I am ready to face any committee, whether it is a governmental commission of inquiry or a state commission of inquiry. I am also seriously considering this possibility," he said.


"One thing which I am committed to is one criterion for everyone – both for the political echelon and for the military echelon," he stated.


According to Peretz, "during this war, failures have been exposed on the different levels and they must be examined and inquired without any compromises. Conclusions must be drawn, work plans must be prepared, and all that is needed must be done in order to be prepared for any possible threat."


Peretz promised to deal with a series of issues which cannot be postponed: Resources for the emergency storerooms, upgrading the level of preparedness and guaranteeing that reserve soldiers receive all they need in terms of equipment and training.


"Believe me, we have an excellent army and have who to count on in spite of what is absent and in spite of the failures. We have overcome and reached most of our goals, all while manifesting supreme courage and sacrifice by the fighters themselves."

Peretz at award ceremony (Photo: Yaron Brener)


And what about the criticism against him? "I am maintaining my restraint. I do not respond to every attack, I do not respond to every criticism. I did it out of national responsibility and I will do it as long as it takes, but I would like to stress one simple fact – even if I don’t respond I still hear."


Turn war into peace opportunity

He said that he wishes to look into the future optimistically: "Today the big test for Israel's government is the chance to turn the war into a peace opportunity despite the overall feeling of complete violence taking over every area in the Middle East."


"We mustn't sink into despair and hopelessness. On the contrary, we must do everything in order to strengthen the moderate elements and start developing talks and negotiations with the Palestinians, the Lebanese and in time with the Syrians."


Peretz added that during the war, weak links in the Israeli society have been revealed and dark corners were lighted up by spotlight.


He added: "Today more than ever, the government is obliged to strengthen the weak, incompetent, elderly and handicapped in our society."


In his speech he also referred to the harsh poverty report: "We can't put the security's needs in front of social needs. It is our duty to build military strength and prepare the IDF for the next conflict."


"Parallel to that, the Israeli society must be rehabilitated. One does not come on account of the other and one does not stand opposite the other. Israel has no alternative but to raise both flags together, the social and the security one,' he said.


Referring to the war's accomplishments, the defense minister said that there are first and significant signs of a change in reality: "There is no longer a direct threat on our towns."


"Hizbullah was removed from the fence, the massive terror infrastructures in the south were destroyed and the Lebanese military was deployed instead. The international forces are becoming strong and united," he concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 08.30.06, 21:46
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