90% of MKs Backed the War

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his associates constantly reiterate the mantra that 111 MKs voted in favor of Olmert's decision to go out to war last summer. Anyone possessing even a rudimentary understanding of the Knesset's arithmetic would realize that this figure cannot be accurate. Yet in essence, Olmert is telling the truth.

Granted, the Arab factions alone comprise 10 MKs, who all opposed the war. Then there are Meretz's Zahava Gal-On and Ran Cohen, who were also opposed. Finally, it is hard to ignore the fact that there never was a vote on the prime minister's announcement regarding the war. MK Gal-On believes Olmert is hoping that if only he repeats this claim often enough, "the lie will be perceived as true."

In response, however, the Prime Minister's Bureau explained that this claim related to the result of a no-confidence vote on July 16 last year, four days after the war began.

"The Knesset expressed unequivocal support for the government, with 75 MKs voting in favor of the its decision. The votes against were all from the Arab factions. The support of all Zionist factions represents 110 MKs," the bureau explained, adding that "much to the chagrin of MK Gal-On, her faction, too, voted in favor."

In truth, only 70 MKs voted in favor, but in essence, the prime minister is correct: 90 percent of the Knesset supported the war. "Supported" is in fact somewhat of an understatement: Many MKs even urged its expansion. Likud faction chair MK Gideon Sa'ar said that "only firm action will serve to restore Israel's ability to deter aggressors."

National Religious Party leader Effi Eitam said "there was no other option, for the war was forced upon us." But it was the chairman of Gal-On's Meretz Party, Yossi Beilin, who went so far as to call on the government to strike Syria as well as Lebanon.