Knesset members, like the press, have spent the last few days in desperate efforts to find a new angle to the Winograd story. State Control Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev asked Judge Eliyahu Winograd, who chairs the eponymous committee, to advance publication of the panel's report on the Second Lebanon War to today, so the Knesset could start discussing it tomorrow. Unsurprisingly, Winograd refused.
Next, Orlev and Likud faction chair Gideon Sa'ar asked Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to call a special session for Thursday. If such a session did take place, Knesset members might have to arrive by dogsled. But even Orlev and Sa'ar apparently realized there was no chance of their request being accepted. Therefore, MKs will have to wait until next week for a chance to stand at the podium and heatedly demand that Ehud Olmert take responsibility. Tomorrow, they will make do with sending statements to reporters' beepers.
It is hard not to be awed by the quantity of sarcasm that Deputy Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein succeeded in cramming into his allotted three minutes of floor time during yesterday's no-confidence debate: "The prime minister says he doesn't need to resign because he has learned the lessons. But the security operation in the South proves beyond a doubt that someone who doesn't know how to play the violin will apparently never know, and Olmert will never be a prime minister. One has to ask whether even the snow that Jerusalem is expecting is a spin by the prime minister, because there's a limit even to spin. On the radio this morning, the Finance Ministry decided by chance to disclose how much the Winograd Committee cost. In any case, this is not in any way part of the dirty fight."
Since two long days remain until the report's publication, a common proposition during the debate was that the prime minister ought to go home even before then - for instance, because of the peace process he is leading. "He says that for 40 years, he erred and remained in error. If you were wrong, go," said MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud). Rivlin believes that Olmert cannot make a mistake or change his opinion, "because he never had an opinion. Every opinion was subordinated to his needs."
MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Union-National Religious Party) argued that Olmert should go even before the Winograd report is published because of the freeze on building in the territories. He gave a fascinating lecture on construction freezes and argued that this government has no right to exist because it has dared to impose a genuine freeze. "There has never been a case in which an Israeli government froze building totally, without winks," he said. Slomiansky attributed the move to Olmert's plan to turn himself into the left's new etrog.
Ruhama Avraham-Balila, the minister in charge of cabinet-Knesset liaison, had apparently been prepared for much harsher attacks. She came to the Knesset equipped with quotes from every leading rightist politician during the Second Lebanon War, and particularly stressed a statement by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu: "I urge the government not to stop in the middle; finish the job."
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