Cabinet Members Reject Call for Inquiry into Lebanon War; Labor Divided on Usefulness

Cabinet ministers have flatly rejected opposition demands for an official inquiry into the government’s conduct of the war in Lebanon. Two separate motions by the Labor Alignment and Shinui calling for a state inquiry commission are expected to be defeated when they come up for a vote in the Knesset tomorrow.

Government officials argue that it is not appropriate to investigate the war in Lebanon while it is, in effect, still going on. One senior minister was quoted as welcoming an inquiry once the Israeli army withdraws from Lebanon because it would show that the government performed better than its critics contend.

The Labor Alignment’s Knesset faction is itself divided over the political wisdom of a probe. MK Mordechai Gur suggested that Labor take full advantage of the present public debate over the war. He pointed out that if an inquiry was held, criticism of the conduct of the war would be silenced for its duration because the matter would be “sub judice.”

Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres said he agreed with Gur. He said however that Labor could not ignore the fact that it was Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich who accused former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon of misleading the Cabinet.

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