IDF, politicians brace for Winograd report
Findings of commission of inquiry into failures of 2006 war in Lebanon, which claimed lives of 119 soldiers and 44 civilians, to be submitted to prime minister, defense minister at 5 pm Wednesday, followed by press conference convened by committee chairman. Olmert's associates fear Judge Winograd's remarks which will not be included in report
The members of the Winograd Commission will arrive at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office in Jerusalem at 5 pm. An hour later, the committee members will convene a press conference where they will read out the report's highlights.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to arrive at the Prime Minister's Office just before 5 pm. The two will receive the 500-page report from the commission chairman, retired Judge Eliyahu Winograd, and the other committee members. The ceremony will take place at the conference room near Olmert's private bureau.
Immediately after the committee members leave the room, Olmert and his advisors will enter the bureau and start reading the report. A special team will look for the obstacles and the mitigative statements in order to prepare for immediate reactions. The prime minister himself is not expected to comment on the report.
Barak is expected to return to the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and will begin studying the report on his way there. The rest of his evening will be dedicated to an intensive reading of the report, as the next day is expected to be busy, with important security meetings in Tel Aviv, including a routine discussion with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The defense minister does not plan to comment before reading the entire report.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to receive the report only after it is posted on the Winograd Commission's homepage.
The committee members will arrive at the Jerusalem International Convention Center at around 5:30 pm. At 6 pm, Judge Winograd will start reading the summary of the final report, which is expected to be about 10 pages long. He is expected to elaborate on the war's failures and link the interim report to the final report.
Prof. Ruth Gabison will then summarize the report in English. The entire press conference is scheduled to be held for about 30 minutes, and reporters will not be allowed to ask questions.
Reservists to read report outside Barak's house
The big question remains how harsh the final report will be. Another question is whether Justice Winograd will choose to emulate investigative committee chairmen who, in the past, have chosen to voice opinions far harsher than those detailed in the text of their written reports to the press.
Winograd may use the press conference to sharply criticize the wartime leadership, singling out individual figures in a manner he was barred from doing in the written report.
Far away from the hullabaloo in Jerusalem, a group of reservists will set up camp outside Barak's house and demand he keep his world and resign from the government. "Since Barak said he needs to read the report before making a decision, we will help him reach that decision by morning," said the reservists, who plan to read the entire report out loud under Barak's house.
The reservists said they hoped members of bereaved families, students and citizens would join them in reading the report throughout the night.
As for a possible rebellion in Kadima – Foreign Minister Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who most see as the most likely candidates for an attempt to oust Olmert – estimates indicate that they too will wait to see how the day after Winograd plays out in the media and public.
Aviram Zino, Attila Somfalvi and Tal Rabinovsky contributed to this report