Photo: GPO
PM Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan

I have no intention to resign, Olmert says

In TV address, prime minister says he will not resign despite harsh conclusions of Winograd Commission, states he plans to hold special cabinet meeting on report, appoint team devoted to implementing lessons

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would hold a special cabinet meeting to discuss the conclusions of the Winograd report on the failures during the Second Lebanon War.


In a special TV address Olmert stressed that he would not resign, and said he planned to appoint a team devoted to "swiftly learning the report and implementing the lessons it requires."



At a meeting of Kadima ministers earlier, Olmert said, "The report is indeed harsh, but I have no intention of resigning.


"I have no doubt that lessons must be learned," continued Olmert, "But Israelis have a tendency of not letting people correct their mistakes. There will be no possibility of drawing conclusions if we enter a political crisis. I intend to continue drawing these conclusions with you."


The atmosphere at the meeting was tense, especially after the first cracks appeared in the party's support for Olmert. Most of the ministers stood by Olmert, while Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni remained silent.


"There was an attempt to drag me into a personal, political game, but I'm not playing. This is not a personal matter between the two of us but the future of the state," she said.


'Commission chose to refrain from individual conclusions'  

Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On said: "Although the commission had the authority to reach individual conclusions, it chose not to. We also know that elections are a process that would paralyze the country and put off learning the lessons of the report by at least six months.


"Members of the commission have said that they prefer allowing people to correct their own mistakes. It is a positive thing if changes are made within the system that was criticized," he added.


Vice Premier Shimon Peres tried to console the prime minister: "You are not accountable for it all," he told him. "The responsibility is on all of us, collectively.


"We do not intend to put the state under the turmoil of elections. Israelis tend to elect a prime minister so that they will have someone to attack. Don't take it all on yourself; we are all accountable," he stated.


Washington is also strengthening the prime minister on this difficult evening. Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, communicated support for the prime minister when asked about President George W Bush's reaction to the Winograd report:: "The president works closely with Olmert and considers him essential in working toward a two-state solution In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


Yisrael Beiteinu has decided not to leave the coalition, in a support of Olmert. "The party regards the report as a tool and an important stage in learning and implementing the lessons of the war. The party joined the government after the war to try and repair the mistakes... We will continue to implement the conclusions as we set out to do when we joined the government."


Attila Somfalvi and Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington, contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 04.30.07, 21:12
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