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      Carmel Fire Comptroller Report: Yishai Turning to Court

      Minister of Interior will ask High Court to rule against Comptroller report blaming him for Carmel blaze.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/7/2012, 10:47 AM

      Aftermath of Carmel fire
      Aftermath of Carmel fire
      Flash 90

      Minister of Interior Eli Yishai (Shas) intends to file a motion in the High Court against State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and his use of the term "special responsibility" with regard to the minister and the failure to prevent the catastrophic Carmel fire in December 2010.

      According to the daily newspaper Maariv, sources close to Yishai revealed that the minister's legal defense team is already at work preparing the motion.

      The Comptroller will present his report's conclusions to the officials who were under review in order to receive their responses. He will also present them with a batch of questions. Minister Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) will both be told that they bear "special responsibility," a term widely seen as a demand that they resign their positions.

      The Comptroller reportedly found that Yishai himself defined Israel's preparedness for a fire as a "catastrophe." Lindenstrauss hinted that Yishai should have threatened to resign from the government when his demands for funding the fire brigades were not met.

      Minister Steinitz will reportedly be told that he exceeded his authority and violated government decisions when he prevented funding from reaching the fire fighters. At the time, Steinitz apparently said that he would not release the funds unless a reform is undertaken in the hospitals and the medical profession as well.

      "This arbitrary decision by the Budget Section of the Finance Ministry, taken with the minister's approval and under his responsibility, had disastrous results," the Comptroller's report says. Relatively small sums could have prevented or limited the damage caused by Carmel blaze, Lindenstrauss determined. 

      Media analysts expressed surprise that the Comptroller's conclusions were told to the victims' families and publicized in the press before going through official channels. Lindenstrauss was criticized in the Hebrew Makor Rishon for working through the media.