Document Reveals Bipartisan Effort to Oust Olmert After Second Lebanon War

Leftists, settlers join forces in bid to portray Israeli war effort as failure.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

A document dating from 2007 shows that political parties and groups on both the right and left - including the Yesha Council of settlements - tried to portray the Second Lebanon War as a failure as a way to get then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign.

The document, titled "Going Home - Agenda," was prepared in December 2007, several days before the release of the final Winograd report on Israel's war effort.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at a mayoral meeting during Second Lebanon War.Credit: Alon Ron

Olmert has told Haaretz that the document represents "a contemptible and cynical political campaign."

According to the document, the groups in the campaign were bereaved families, reservists, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, Ometz, the Yesha Council, Meretz and Labor MKs. The Yesha Council was a key player on the ground.

The document states that the campaign had NIS 230,000 at its disposal. An organization run by Maj. Gen. (res. ) Uzi Dayan provided NIS 90,000. Israel Yigal, who headed the reservist NGO Take Responsibility and later led Likud's election campaign, was in charge of NIS 50,000. The document notes that the campaign also had another NIS 300,000 for activities related to the Winograd report.

Dayan told Haaretz that the Likud party, which was then in the opposition, took part in the effort. "There was talk with Bibi about different possibilities," he said, referring to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, now prime minister.

United front against PM

Dayan also told Haaretz that the campaign aimed to involve as many people as possible from the right and left to create a united front.

"The campaign was not political but was aimed at the political arena, not only for the sake of efficiency, but also because of values, in the sense of convincing elected officials to take responsibility or to take action," he said. "We certainly played in the political arena and involved the reservists and the bereaved families. The struggle was just, it had values, and I'm proud to have taken part in it."

Dayan ran for the Knesset on the Likud list in 2009 but was not elected.

According to the document, the organizers held an event where they read chapters of the Winograd report several hours after it was released. The event was held in a large tent in north Tel Aviv, near the home of Ehud Barak, defense minister for the Olmert government and the current government.

Olmert told Haaretz that "the document we have been asked to respond to is clear proof of all I had assumed occurred but did not know for a fact had taken place. It's a document that is very difficult for me to accept, describing how elements with political motives, from the extreme right wing on the one hand and the left on the other, joined up with funding from the Yesha Council and Likud."

According to Olmert, the two sides "for all the wrong reasons took advantage of the bereaved families' pain and embarked on a campaign that undermined the legitimacy of Israel's response on July 12, 2006."

Olmert said the war "brought calm to hundreds of thousands of citizens of northern Israel, calm that has been kept for more than five years." According to the former prime minister, "Hezbollah suffered a fatal blow during the Second Lebanon War. Only those among us who initiated the political campaign ... tried to convince our enemy that this was not the case."

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