Olmert and Peretz Reimbursed for Expenses in Lebanon War Probe

State to reimburse PM, former defense minister NIS 30 thousand each for legal expenses in Second Lebanon War probe.

The State will reimburse Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former defense minister Amir Peretz for their legal expenses in the Winograd Committee investigation into the Second Lebanon War. However, at NIS 30 thousand VAT each, the reimbursement fee is much lower than Olmert and Peretz had requested.

Olmert asked the legal protection and cooperation committee, headed by Justice Ministry Director General Moshe Shilo, to be reimbursed NIS 150 thousand VAT for his legal expenses, as well as an extra NIS 4500 for hiring the services of attorney Eli Zohar, who reportedly spent 450 work hours preparing Olmert's testimony.

Peretz asked for a total reimbursement fee of NIS 163 thousand for the services of three different legal firms. The former defense minister claimed his testimony required extensive legal preparation, but the committee ruled that Peretz also used the assistance of the defense ministry's legal team. The committee further claimed that the amount of hours for which Peretz asked to be reimbursed was "exaggerated."

In its final report, the Winograd panel called the war, which Israel launched against Hezbollah on July 12, 2006 after the militant group abducted two Israel Defense Forces soldiers and killed three others, a "major missed opportunity."

Winograd deemed the decision in principle to launch a major ground offensive in the waning hours of the 2006 war to be essential, but assailed the large-scale ground operation launched in the final 60 hours of the war in which dozens of IDF soldiers were killed - saying it "did not achieve any military objectives nor did it fulfill its potential."