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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Comrade Peretz appoints a commission takes out the whitewash

In a blatant attempt to avoid an investigation by an unbiased commission into the war's conduct, Comrade Peretz yesterday appointed a commission of inquiry headed by his own military advisor to look into the war's conduct. Politicians across the spectrum - including from Peretz's own party - are furious:

Criticism was flowing across the political spectrum on Thursday regarding Defense Minister Amir Peretz's decision to establish an external inquiry commission to investigate the IDF's management and preparation for the war in Lebanon, as well as regarding Peretz's appointment of former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak to head the commission.

Lipkin-Shahak was Peretz's adviser during the war. Former IAF chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger, former Defense Ministry director-general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Biran, Logistics Directorate head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ami Sagis and Teva chairman Eli Hurvitz were also named to the commission.

Labor MK Danny Yatom [from Peretz's own party. CiJ] said that there was a "large defect" in the appointment of the committee members, since some of them served as advisers to the defense minister during the war and therefore also have to defend their decisions.

Yatom called for a governmental committee to be established shows members would be officials from outside the political and military spheres. He wanted the proposed committee to be headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. [I disagree with appointing Aharon Barak. He is not a military expert and he brings his unique view of the law and of his own powers to the table. I would rather see the likes of Moshe Yaalon or Giora Eiland. CiJ]

Likud MK Yuval Steinitz [who was Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee until March. CiJ] also criticized Peretz's committee, saying it was an embarrassing procedure and with corrupt purposes - to prevent the formation of an external and serious committee. [What's the problem? That's how he always did things in the Histadrut. /sarcasm. CiJ]

Steinitz called for an external committee to be created to investigate the current and previous political leadership as well as the war itself [which means that he has the guts to see his own party investigated. This would include Bibi Netanyahu's decisions as Finance Minister and Steinitz is known to be close to Netanyahu. CiJ]. He advised that it be done only after all of the soldiers have returned to Israeli ground.

NU-NRP [right wing opposition. CiJ] faction chairman, MK Uri Ariel, said, "Amir Peretz's committee represents escaping responsibility and spitting in the face of IDF soldiers. The public demands a real inquiry that would also probe the political echelon including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Peretz. The current committee will not do this."

Meretz [left wing opposition. CiJ] Chairman Yossi Beilin joined Ariel in his critique. "Peretz's decision to establish an external inquiry would not be accepted as a substitute for a state inquiry that would examine the political, military and social aspects of the second Lebanon war."

Peretz's commission will check the IDF's level of preparedness prior to the war and investigate how well the General Staff and Northern Command performed from July 12 - the date of the kidnapping of two reservists - until August 14 when the cease-fire went into effect. It will publish its first report within three weeks. [That's also absurd. It should take as long as is necessary and not do a half of the job. CiJ]

Ever since the cease-fire, there have been widespread calls for such a commission. Many returning reservists complained about the army's alleged failure to supply water, food and equipment.

Defending the army against the claim that it was not sufficiently prepared for the war, OC Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel told Channel 1: "We were prepared. We could have prepared more, but we were busy with other things."

Material was insufficient, he said, because of cuts in the defense budget in recent years. [Watch for people to start blaming Netanyahu. I saw a survey this morning that already has the Likud going from twelve seats to twenty. Bibi is the Chairman of the Likud, and Olmert and Peretz smell that he is after them. CiJ]

One Labor MK said the party was "extremely disappointed" by Peretz's actions. "This reeks of Peretz trying to avoid an inquiry," said the MK. "We, as a party, should not support it." [Too bad s/he remained anonymous. CiJ]


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