Netanyahu: Deterrence Loss Was Greatest Failure in Lebanon War

Opposition leader slams PM Lebanon war speech,' says government is 'shell shocked' and must resign.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lashed out against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Knesset speech that touched on the Second Lebanon War.

Netanyahu addressed the plenum after Olmert spoke and said the prime minister's functioning during the crisis had weakened Israel's position.

"The greatest failure as a result of the war is that Israel's deterrent capability has been severely harmed," Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum.

The opposition had given the government "full support to achieve the [war's] goals, but [it] failed to do so," he said.

"During the war we faced one front," he continued. "Now we face three fronts. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has built up the ordnance it had before the war. The Gaza Strip has been turning into a second Lebanon, including tunnels and bunkers. The Philadelphi Route has become a highway for arms smuggling," he added, referring to the road that separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

"All that the Winograd Committee said can be summarized in one statement: The Government of Israel is shell shocked, and every day that passes with this government reduces Israel's deterrent capability and endangers its security. This government must go to the people."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defending his decision not to resign in the wake of the damning report into the handling of the Second Lebanon War last year, told lawmakers during the same Knesset session that the conflict had restored quiet to Israel's northern border.

Olmert made the comments during special speech to the Knesset on the Winograd Committee's partial report on the war, marking the first time he has spoken addressed the plenum on the report since its publication 29 days ago.

"Two weeks ago, I visited the northern border, and at every place I was shown the positions once held by Hezbollah terrorists," he said. "Residents who were faced, hour after hour, minute after minute, with a Hezbollah man pointing his rifle at them - this situation no longer exists."

"I believed then as I believe now that the decision to go to war was the necessary one under the circumstances," he said. "It is true that the Lebanon war, like all wars until today, came with a high price. This is the part of the high price that the State of Israel has been paying for six decades for its desire to live in peace, security and independence."