livni - Moti Milrod - December 9 2010
Tzipi Livni. Photo by Moti Milrod
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Knesset opposition chairwoman MK Tzipi Livni yesterday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, harshly criticizing his actions during the Carmel fire and following the State Comptroller's damning report on Israel's firefighting services.

"In a properly run country of the kind Israel is supposed to be, the comptroller's report would have been enough for those responsible to pay the price," Livni said while at a conference of local government officials at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Netanyahu said yesterday in Herzliya he would see to it that a bill to create a national firefighting service would be passed.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said in response to the comptroller's report that it had "stressed that there had been an ongoing failure on the part of all Israeli governments."

Yishai also said the report "stated that I had warned Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister [Ehud] Barak and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz many times." Netanyahu said that within 10 days he would be presenting a bill mandating the establishment of a national firefighting service to the cabinet and that his military secretary, Yohanan Loker would be drafting a proposal for an aerial firefighting unit. Livni also slammed Netanyahu's conduct during the fire itself.

"I have no doubt that the prime minister wanted to deal with the disaster and do his best to stop the fire. But then we saw how practical management turned into public relations and became a media show," she said.

Yishai, whom the comptroller found mainly responsible for failures in the firefighting services, placed blame on Steinitz. "I can express my opinion, I can shout and fight, but in the end the Finance Ministry did not approve [the outlay] and the responsibility is the minister's," he said.

Yishai yesterday reiterated the proposal the cabinet had rejected in the past to allocate NIS 670 million to the firefighting services. "If my proposal is not approved in the coming weeks, the entire government should resign," he said.

The Shas minister said he had been "lynched by the media" because he was ultra-Orthodox.

Israel Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shimon Romah yesterday told the press he supported Yishai, whom he said had acted properly and had brought the subject of the firefighting services to the cabinet more times than any other interior minister.