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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a special holiday interview with Haaretz that all the substantive decisions he made during the war in Lebanon were correct.

Olmert rejected claims that Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the cabinet a week into the war that the goals had been achieved.

"Under no circumstances did the military make the statement that, from the perspective of attaining military goals, we could stop. Never. The army always asked for more time, another ten days and another ten days. I have no complaints against the army, I am just responding to charges that the army made claims like that. Never happened."

According to Olmert, the only point at which it was possible to shorten the war was missed because of the "Qana disaster."

Olmert said in the interview, which will be published tomorrow, that Amir Peretz's appointment as defense minister stemmed from political constraints.

PM lashes 'foolish' Ya'alon

Olmert attacks comments by former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, who told Haaretz last week that soldiers died at the end of the war for "corrupt spin." Olmert calls Ya'alon's charges "foolishness" and says "I am sorry for Boogie, whose personal bitterness overcame his wisdom."

Olmert replies to Ya'alon's criticism and that of Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. "What war exactly did Boogie conduct? What war with political, international, comprehensive military aspects did Boogie ever conduct in his life? Multi-divisional? When? Do you remember when? What war like that did Mofaz conduct?"

Operation Defensive Shield

"What is Defensive Shield? Going into the Jenin refugee camp? That is a war? With all due respect, neither of them has conducted a complex international political campaign like the one conducted now, and neither of them can show me experience that would make me say sorry, really, with that kind of experience, maybe it would be better if you handle this business."

Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, meanwhile, said yesterday in response to criticism by his predecessor Moshe Ya'alon, "Never in my life have I made use of the blood of the fallen to put an issue on the agenda, personal or otherwise. I will never do that. Perhaps that is the difference."

Olmert further stated that "a large portion of the protest" against him was "organized, financed, and supported by political entities. "Most of those who demanded a state commission of inquiry wanted a mechanism that would increase the chances of ousting the prime minister and the defense minister. They wanted to overthrow the government, not through elections."

The premier believes that Likud joining the ruling coalition appears "impossible" at this point, due to the differences among the views and platforms of Kadima and Likud.