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Basic facts on the Israeli inquiry

Protesters demonstrate outside Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's residence in Jerusalem, April 30 demanding that he resign in light of the Winograd Report. (Brian Hendler)

Protesters demonstrate outside Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem, April 30 demanding that he resign in light of the Winograd Report. (Brian Hendler)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – The following is a guide to the Winograd Commission report.Why was the commission created?It was formed after public criticism of the management of the Second Lebanon War. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz appointed what is referred to as a government examination committee. It was charged with examining the preparedness and behavior of the political and military leadership relating to the war against Hezbollah last summer, as well as the years that led to the conflict since the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.What are the major findings?The findings released April 30 represent an interim report, focusing only on the lead-up to the war and the first six days. The report criticizes Olmert, Peretz and the wartime chief of staff, Dan Halutz. Specifically:* Olmert is singled out for what is described as “severe failure” in his judgment and lacked caution from the start of the war. “The prime minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one,” the report said. “He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the Israeli Defense Forces, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs.”* Peretz is reprimanded for not having “knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters,” and his failure to seek better counsel.* Halutz is criticized for not having the army properly prepared and for failing to inform the politicians about internal army considerations. The panel expressed concerns regarding the military’s ability to carry out the stated goals of the war.What are the possible ramifications?The commission when it submits its final report, planned for late July, may present recommendations to personally hold those investigated responsible for the wa’s failures. That said, unlike a commission of inquiry, the committee is an advisory body and its recommendations are not legally binding.But public pressure or an internal coup in the ruling Kadima Party in response to the report’s scathing comments could force Olmert out of power.For now that appears unlikely, and Olmert has said he will not resign. Peretz has said he would likely leave his post as defense minister after his Labor Party holds its primaries at the end of May.Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has returned to politics and plans to run against Peretz for the party leadership, reportedly is Olmert’s first choice to replace Peretz as defense minister.A new round of appointments in the army’s general staff also is likely in the wake of the report.

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