Members of the Labor Party argue - with no small measure of justification - that there is no reason to send Ehud Olmert home after the Winograd Committee releases its final report, however harsh it may be. After all, they continued to sit alongside him when that same committee, headed by a judge whom they themselves appointed, determined that Olmert "failed as a leader who led his country into a planned military operation."
It doesn't perturb them that the committee said their boss "did not assume the role of the prime minister, in that he did not properly examine the ability of the army to carry out its missions, did not seriously examine the other alternatives and ignored the situation of the home front."
What can the committee write in its final report that was not already said in the interim report? Will the panel's members change their minds about the diagnosis that Olmert "revealed not only a lack of consistency, but also failed seriously when it came to exercising judgment, responsibility and caution"?
What can the final Winograd report say about Olmert's irresponsible behavior that was not said in the state comptroller's report on the home front? Will former justice Eliyahu Winograd reject the extremely harsh findings of former justice Micha Lindenstrauss, the state comptroller? Lindenstrauss said that at the outbreak of the war, although the government was told the home front would probably be hit and even received assessments about the scope of the attack, it was not until the war's 19th day that the prime minister convened the cabinet for a situation evaluation of home-front preparedness and the use of bomb shelters.
After the state comptroller determined that the prime minister failed seriously in dealing with the civilian population and in providing essential services to residents of the North, what else do coalition members require to revoke the driver's license of someone who so endangered civilian lives?
In Jewish tradition it is said that "he that covers up his sins shall not prosper; but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). In view of the comptroller's grave report and the reaction of the Prime Minister's Office, Olmert is not deserving of mercy. The comptroller said the PMO told him that "during the process of making the decision to attack in Lebanon, a great deal of weight was given to an attack on the home front." However, the minutes of the August 9 cabinet meeting show the home front was never taken into account in the decision to go to war. They also reveal there is no truth to Olmert's claim before the Winograd Committee that he planned the war in advance.
According to the minutes, Minister Ophir Pines remarked to Olmert that "when one embarks on a campaign that will last at least five to six weeks, it's impossible not to take the home front into account in the decision." Olmert replied sarcastically: "During the three months during which we planned the war and prepared for the war, did we really forget to consider the home front? What are you talking about?" And he continued, this time in a serious vein: "A war broke out, and we had to find solutions while we were in motion." Yet, instead of begging forgiveness from the residents of the North for abandoning them to their fate, Olmert dares to attack the state comptroller who exposed his failures.
And where is Pines? While he ran for Labor Party chair, he set up a protest tent in front of the PMO, demanding that Olmert resign immediately. What does Barak, the new acquisition, have to say when his long-term associate, Minister Shalom Simhon, opines that Olmert has to run the country without any connection to the final Winograd report? Why don't we hear from the secretary of the Labor Party, Eitan Cabel? He resigned from the government the day after the interim Winograd report was published, saying that "the public has lost its faith in Olmert." At the time, he added: "I found nothing in the report that the prime minister can hold onto in order to continue serving in his job."
Why are they now seizing on the final report? What do they care about the warning letters and the hearing of army officers?
One after another, public opinion polls shows that were it up to the public, Olmert would have been sent home long ago, with or without Winograd and Lindenstrauss.
Every additional hour with Olmert at the helm is one more bad hour for the politicians.
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