Eli Yishai - Emil Salman - February 2012
Eli Yishai. Photo by Emil Salman
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Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded on Saturday for the first time to the impending report by the State Comptroller’s Office, which is expected to call for Yishai's resignation over the 2010 Carmel fire.

Last Thursday, the State Comptroller’s Office sent the final draft of its report on the fire to government ministers and officials. Earlier drafts of the damning report raised expectations that Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz would also asked to resign over his failures in dealing with the disaster. The report is also expected to place “general” responsibility with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich.

The report was also sent to police, prison service, and fire and rescue services officials, who were in senior positions at the time of the Carmel fire on December 2, 2010.

Speaking to "Meet the Press" on Channel 2, Yishai said he has no intention of resigning or being assigned a different portfolio, and that he plans to present documents proving the steps he took to improve the Fire and Rescue Services.

"I was the only interior minister who ensured the Fire and Rescue Services received money in recent years," Yishai said. In that respect, he added, he should even be commended.

Yishai said the question of the preparedness of the Fire and Rescue Services should be viewed separately from the Carmel disaster itself, which claimed 44 lives. "There has been a fire every year," he said, "the different story here is the high number of people killed. If no one had died they wouldn't have checked… I have not been the interior minister for the past 60 years, I am not a fireman and not a policeman at a checkpoint. I did not light the match."

Yishai also repeated the claim that the media and the State Comptroller are targeting him because he is from the Shas party. "If this was Ofir Pines or Meir Shitrit, they would be lauded and praised. Eli Yishai from Shas is an easy target. I have been targeted from the first day on the job."

The report was also sent to police, prison service, and fire and rescue services officials, who were in senior positions at the time of the Carmel fire on December 2, 2010.