Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Photo: AFP
Syrian President Bashar Assad. Threatened?
Photo: AFP
Olmert: No restraints in campaign against Syria
PM tells Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that war in Lebanon served as deterring element against Damascus; says realignment plan suspended for now due to 'change in priorities'
For the first time since the war in the north began, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived Monday for a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to brief its members.


"What we have done in Lebanon amounts to a deterring element against the Syrians, because they now realize that while in Lebanon we have restrained our use of force, in a campaign against them we will not adhere to such restraints," the PM stated.


Olmert referred to the decision to shelf the realignment plan for the time being. "Something has changed, the priorities I thought to be the right ones before are not relevant for now."


According to the Knesset members who attended the meeting, Olmert "gave a speech in defense of the purposes of the war, and tried to present what he believed to be its accomplishments."


MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that the PM's performance was articulate and well thought-out, "but underneath the statements there was a clear message negating negotiations with Syria and with the Palestinians, a message against the realignment and a State commission of inquiry."


At the opening of his words, Olmert referred to reports in the Arab press about an emerging deal for the release of kidnapped soldier

Gilad Shalit, and said he was unaware of such a deal.


MKs lash out at Olmert

MK's from the right and the left harshly criticized the prime minister's refusal to set up an official commission of inquiry. Olmert retorted: "I will not approve the creation of an official commission on inquiry that will paralyze the entire system. Everyone will be busy with legal defense in a procedure that will last for a long time."


MK Limor Livnat (Likud) said in response to Olmert's statements that "the prime minister didn't firmly say he is taking back his statements from his realignment plan. The prime minister remains arrogant even while the Knesset chairperson is considering the creation of a national emergency government. He does not feel the country is in a state of emergency, and this is the strange thing about it."


MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) added regarding the issue of the captives: "We could have made a deal to return the captives before the war and spare many casualties spare the destruction of houses and long stays in shelters. The fact that the captives are not with us show that the goals that the government set up for itself have not been reached. This is why a commission of inquiry is necessary, to investigate the failures of the war."


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