Coalition Chairman Avigdor Itzchaky believes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not be forced to resign after Monday's publication of an interim report on the handling of last summer's war, even if his leadership is harshly censured.
"We don't expect the Winograd report to destabilize the political system to the point where the prime minister will need to be replaced," Itzchky told Ynet on Sunday, referring to the commission appointed to investigate the Second Lebanon War.
Channel 10 reported Friday that the Winograd Commission would fault Olmert for making "misguided and hasty" decisions during the 34 days of fighting with Hizbullah and for rushing into war without envisioning how to end it.
Itzchaky said the full report, which is expected in the summer, would be the real test for Olmert and the coalition.
"The coalition is very strong," Itzchaky said.
Upon entering the weekly cabinet meeting, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that "the government is nearing its end. The government is only in the middle of the road."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday morning during a Kadima ministers meeting, "We cannot discuss what has been leaked. We shall wait for the report, read it and study it and then respond."
Deputy Prime Minister and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said, "We must not deal with unimportant things. We must wait for the report. We will study it and operate according to it.
"We must not put the cart before the horse. We must wait with the question whether the government has reached its end. What is clear is that we must adopt all the Winograd report findings and fix the failures."
Meretz MK: Olmert and Peretz are reckless leaders
Since the leaks of the Winograd report findings, opposition Knesset Members have called on Olmert to resign.
Meretz faction chairwoman, MK Zahava Gal-On, said in response to the leaks, "The prime minister and the defense minister are hasty and reckless leaders who bet on the lives of soldiers and civilians and brought about their deaths. They should resign immediately. The one responsible for the failure must be prevented from staying and causing disasters in the future."
The Winograd report was the main issue discussed at the Kadima ministers meeting. Ministers said that the opposition's attacks were instinctive responses in an "automatic mode" without reading the report.
"It was expected and so banal," some ministers said, adding that they supported the decision not to respond to the leaks.
The ministers' responses to the publications before the cabinet meeting were restrained.
Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said that lessons must be drawn and that the failures mentioned in the report would have to be fixed. "We will first read it and then respond," he said.
Asked if the Olmert government had come to its end following the Winograd report, Minister for Pensioners Affairs Rafi Eitan said, "The answer is no."
Housing and Construction Minister Meir Sheetrit said, "I suggest that we wait for the report's publication. I have seen enough government being eulogized too early. Now one should put on his suit. It's too early, and the argument is not on the question whether to launch a war or not. There were failures and let's hope that the lessons have been learned."
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said that "patience is needed. We shall not respond before the publication of the committee's conclusions."
Olmert will be handed a copy of the interim report at 4 pm on Monday, and his office said the prime minister will comment on the commission's findings once he has read the report.
The commission is also expected to criticize Defense Minister Amir Peretz for failing to seek enough military advice during the war and for not being assertive.
Former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz will be reprimanded for underestimating the threat posed by Katyusha rockets and for not presenting the government with alternative military plans to stem daily rocket attacks against Israel.
Amnon Meranda contributed to the report