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Friday, December 01, 2006

Supreme Court turns down petition for commission of inquiry

Late last night, the Supreme Court rejected a petition that would have required the government to appoint a commission of inquiry into this past summer's war in Lebanon. The vote was 4-3. The decision allows the Winograd 'governmental investigation' appointed by Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert to stand. Winograd has the power to subpoena witnesses and to grant immunity from prosecution, but cannot make recommendations that would bind the government, i.e. he cannot fire people, as a state commission of inquiry would be permitted to do.

There are two things you need to be aware of here. First, Israeli 'Supreme Court' decisions are generally unanimous, because of the way that the court is selected (i.e. if you don't think the right left way, you don't get appointed to the court. Second, the court was actually quite critical of the government.

Writing on behalf of the Supreme Court majority, Supreme Court Vice President Eliezer Rivlin wrote:
Sharp criticism has been leveled at the decision to appoint an inquiry committee to investigate the war and to give precedence to a state inquiry commission. Hard feelings have developed in the public, and an understandable desire has been expressed for the events of the war to be investigated in the best, most comprehensive and trustworthy way that will merit...the public's trust.
Rivlin also wrote:
The government's behavior in general and its decision not to establish a State-commissioned inquiry in particular will also be judged by the public. The rejection of this petition does not constitute a 'kosher' stamp on the matter for the public. It does not relieve the elected officials of their obligation to the public. They will be held accountable for their actions by the voters.
But Arutz Sheva notes:
A growing grassroots movement spearheaded by IDF reservists, including well-respected officers, did not succeed in persuading Olmert to change his mind.

Nevertheless, the reservists seemed determined to continue protests, but now, significantly weakened, this remains to be seen. With the euphoria of the new ceasefire and Olmert’s calls for a renewed diplomatic process with the PA (Palestinian Authority), the political and media spotlights are shifting attention away from the Second Lebanon War. As such, it is possible that the calls for the resignations of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the prime minister may be silenced once and for all.
Further details here and here.

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