An interim version of the Winograd report looking into Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon was released on Monday. As many expected, the partial report doesn’t mince words in criticizing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert:
The prime minister, the report said, “bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of ‘his’ government and the operations of the army.”
Olmert also came under criticism for rushed actions at the outset of the war, and for failing to consult with either military or non-military experts.
“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 IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs.”
Olmert was also censured for failing to “adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel’s actions were not realistic and were not materializing.”
“All of these,” the report said, “add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.”
Olmert has already announced he has no plans to resign, instead promising to start implementation of the report’s recommendations, beginning with a ‘special cabinet session’ on Wednesday. Blake Hounshell makes the observation that former military Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has already stepped down, with Defense Minister Amir Peretz expected to leave his post in the near future (although recent comments from associates indicate Peretz may attempt to remain in power despite the report’s findings). Both officials were also singled out by the report for censure.
Yet, as Akiva Eldar notes, the Israeli PM is somewhat insulated from owning the blame for the war’s conduct due to the breadth of criticism doled out by the report. Also, one should not discount the Bibi factor:
The greatest asset of this coalition is opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Over the past few days, the same argument that always arises during political crises resurfaced: “What do you want – Bibi in power?”