Minister: Opposition must apologize to PM in light of war report
Politicians respond harshly to release of war report, call on Olmert to step down immediately. 'It would be irresponsible to let the PM stay in office. The political system must form an alternative government and send him home,' Meretz MK Gal-On says. Minister Avraham: Opposition owes Olmert an apology
Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila of Kadima responded Wednesday to the publication of the Winograd report into the Second Lebanon War, saying that "the committee members did their job and submitted a true report which contains a series of failures and flaws discovered.
"The opposition's attempt to find flaws in the decision making process has received a crushing response in Winograd's remarks. The opposition must apologize to the public, the prime minister (Ehud Olmert) and the bereaved families," she added.
A senior aide to Olmert signaled that the PM would not step down following the release of the final war report.
"The prime minister and the government take responsibility and will make repairs," Olmert's cabinet secretary, Oved Yehezkel, told Israel's Army Radio.
"Taking responsibility means staying on, fixing, improving and continuing to lead the way forward."
However, the Likud party declared that the Winograd report "was extremely severe" and cast clear responsibility on the political echelon.
"Olmert must accept personal responsibility and resign. (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak, who promised to leave the government upon the publication of the final report, should keep his promise. If the defense minister searched for an excuse in the report not to resign, he did not find one," the party said in a statement.
'Form an alternative government'
Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) said, "Olmert will enter history as Israel's most failed leader," adding that "the sentence has been given and Israel's citizens will settle the account with the government's marionettes, which will allow a failed leader lacking judgment to continue to lead Israel."
The prime minister was also criticized by the left end of the political spectrum, with Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin saying that "the Winograd Commission's final report reinforces the impression that critical decisions for the future of Israel were made without using judgment and without understanding their potential outcomes.
"If the prime minister understands that he bears personal responsibility, the only conclusion is not that he is the only one who can amend his mistakes, but that he must resign," Beilin said.
Meretz faction chairwoman, Knesset Member Zahava Gal-On, said "we must not let Justice Winograd's self-controlled tone confuse us as to the required conclusion: (Prime Minister) must resign immediately due to his responsibility for the war and its failures.
"The committee revealed the political and military echelon's great lying culture and its irresponsibility in launching the war. It would be irresponsible to let Olmert stay in office. The political system must form an alternative government and send Olmert home," she added.
Reuters contributed to the report