As news of Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's resignation emerged Wednesday, Knesset members from across the political spectrum called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to step down from their positions as well.

"Halutz's step was unavoidable, but he was not the only one responsible for the failures of the war - the government was too," MK Ophir Pines-Paz, a candidate for leadership of the Labor Party, told Army Radio.

"The political echelon is not innocent of errors. There were failures, oversights by the political echelon."

MK Zahava Gal-On, Meretz faction chairman in the Knesset, said that "the political echelon" also bore responsibility for the war.

"The failures of the war in Lebanon could not have stopped at the military level. Also the political echelon, who accepted the irresponsible decision to go to war, must go home."

Gal-On's words were echoed by her opposite number in the Likud, MK Gideon Sa'ar.

"It doesn't make sense for the chief of staff to carry all the blame, while his supervisors at the political level - those responsible for the failures of the war - escape the responsiblity and continue in their positions."

Meanwhile, MK Effi Eitam, a member of the right-wing National Union-National Religious Party and a reservist general, told Army Radio that Halutz had had no choice but to resign as he no longer had the confidence of the military. But, he added, Israel's political leaders must not "absolve themselves of responsibility."

"The debacle focuses on the triumvirate of the prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff," said Eitam.

Israel Radio quoted Meretz MK Ran Cohen as saying that, "now it is clear how great the leadership crisis really is in Israel, as Olmert and Peretz, whose own positions are shaky, will be appointing the new chief of staff."

Kibbutz Movement Secretary-General Ze'ev Shor on Tuesday called Amir Peretz to step down as Defense Minister.

Speaking at a Gan Shmuel kibbutz event, Shor said Halutz's decision left Peretz "no choice but to resign his post."

"In this situation the Defense Minister cannot manage the heavy burden of rehablitating the army and the public's faith in the sytsem or leadership that have been damaged," Shor said.

Former prime minister and candidate for the leadership of the Labor party, Ehud Barak, attended the Gan Shmuel meeting.

Shor said he had no candidate for the position of defense minister, only that they be "worthy candidates, and there is no shortage of such people in the Labor party."

In Gaza, senior Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri said that Halutz's resignation and an imminent investigation against Olmert "prove the Zionist government is weak," and should spur Palestinians "to continue resistance and jihad."

Army Radio quoted Hezbollah as saying that the army chief's departure proved the Iranian-backed group's victory over Israel in second Lebanon war last year.

More on Halutz' resignation:

  • IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz announces his resignation
  • ANALYSIS: IDF needs a new commander to rehabilitate itself
  • Halutz' letter of resignation