Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been granted yet another reprieve as the conclusions of the commission investigating the government’s behavior during last year’s war were pushed back six months.
The Opposition, disgruntled coalition members and ambitious members of Olmert’s own Kadima Party have widely assumed that the prime minister will be forced to step down once the conclusions of the hand-selected committee he formed are published. Now, the decision of the Winograd Committee to warn officials who will be affected by its conclusions will postpone the release of the findings by three-to-six months.
The delay will see the findings published well after the November summit, at which a PA state in Judea and Samaria is planned to be established, according to officials. It had been widely assumed that the damage caused to Israel’s negotiating position by the one-sided concessions to the weakened Fatah group would be mitigated by the fact that Olmert will be replaced before the conference or greatly weakened by the Winograd findings.
The report was to be issued following the Jewish holidays but will now be issued around the civil new year.
Source of the Delay
A petition filed with the Supreme Court by former Shinui MK Avraham Poraz and Military Defense Counsel Orna David sought to have the Winograd Committee forced to issue warnings to those to be implicated in its findings. The petition also called for those who testified to be cross-examined by those warned.
Members of the Winograd Committee protested bitterly and had said that if the court forced their hand, they would resign.
Now, the committee says it will send warning letters to those affected and is asking the court to strike the petition from the record.
The committee says it will take three to six months to inform those affected of the allegations against them, list probable outcomes and allow them to review the material submitted against them. Those wishing to reappear before the committee, and even submit additional evidence in their defense, will be allowed to do so. Cross examination of witnesses, however, will not be permitted.
Olmert Hunkers Down Ahead of Holidays
Prime Minister Olmert has decided to buck the customary practice of granting interviews to Israel’s press prior to Rosh HaShanah.
The stated reason is that Olmert’s busy schedule does not leave time to speak with the media; but his aides said he wants to keep details of negotiations with Fatah Chief Mahmouf Abbas under wraps.
Aides were also quoted saying that such interviews were usually aimed at “angering the Prime Minister in an effort to garner better headlines.”