MKs Slam Decision Not to Set Up Official Inquiry Commission

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have voiced sharp criticism over Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision not to establish a commission of inquiry.

MK Ami Ayalon (Labor) said only a state commission headed by a High Court justice could restore the public's faith in the government. MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said only a state commission could properly scrutinize the whole picture and the interrelationship between the army and the government.

Labor ministers Ophir Pines-Paz and Eitan Cabel also joined the call for a state commission of inquiry instead of the one appointed yesterday by Olmert.

MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) said, "The culture of wheeling and dealing that established this government is the culture that appointed the committee." His faction said that as soon as the State Comptroller's report on the home front was in, it would act through the Knesset Control Committee, which it chairs, to establish a state commission.

MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) said the day Olmert's wheeling and dealing was uncovered by the state comptroller, Olmert created the biggest wheel-deal of them all in establishing a toothless committee that would not receive the cooperation or faith of the reservists, and thus would not arrive at the truth.

MK Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) said the cabinet yesterday established a committee that would allow the politicians to flee responsibility and blame the army. Eitam's faction said the division into governmental and military committees was a knife in the army's back.

The chairman of the National Union-National Religious Party Knesset faction, MK Zevulun Orlev, said the government had not allowed the army to win. Now, he said, the government was trying to white-wash its mistakes after failing to attain its military goals and abandoning the home front. His fellow faction member MK Aryeh Eldad added that the Olmert-Peretz-Halutz leadership had brought Israel's security crashing down, and that even 100 ex-security service officials could not help Olmert escape an appearence before a legal commission of inquiry to answer for the failures.

MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) called on the members of the committee not to accept Olmert's appointment. According to Gal-On, people of the caliber of Admoni, Gavison and Dror should not serve as Olmert's fig-leaf on a committee intended only to silence public protest.

Gal-On's faction colleague MK Yossi Beilin called Olmert the "national stutterer for 2006," adding, "Just as Olmert managed a long, stuttering and expensive war, he dragged his feet on its investigation and came to a sorry and shameful decision."

On the other hand, Kadima MKs welcomed Olmert's decision. The chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Menachem Ben-Sasson, said, "The establishment of the committee can bring about the healing of problems and the building of an updated agenda for Israeli society."