Knesset, by 56-50 Vote, Rejects Opposition Motion for Inquiry into Conduct of War in Lebanon

An opposition motion to investigate the government’s conduct of the war in Lebanon was rejected by the Knesset in a 56-50 vote today. The outcome was not unexpected. But one Likud MK, Yitzhak Berman, voted with the opposition, and his colleague, Dror Seigerman abstained.

Premier Menachem Begin led the debate, insisting that the war had only one objective — to protect the people of Galilee from terrorist bombardment. He rejected allegations that his government wanted to establish a “new order” in Lebanon. He conceded that there had been some difficulties, observing however that “all military campaigns run into difficulties.”

Begin dismissed the idea of creating a commission to inquire into the government’s decision-making process during the war on grounds that it would “give ammunition to Israel’s enemies.” The demand for a commission came from the Labor Alignment and Shinui. Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres said there was no intention to investigate the causes of the war or the performance of the army but to find out if and why the Cabinet often gave approval to war moves by then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon “after the fact.” Sharon was abroad today.

Mordechai Virsubsky of the Shinui faction said he had documentary proof that the army was ordered to fight the Syrians in Lebanon long before there was any decision by the government to engage the Syrians. Begin claimed that in Israel’s previous wars there were cases of military actions approved retroactively.

Likud MK Akiva Noff introduced a motion to investigate the behavior of the opposition parties during the war. The Alignment’s Knesset faction rose en bloc and left the chamber.

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