State Comptroller: Home Front Report 'Liable to Anger Many'

Takes Olmert to task for failing to respond to a series of questions over handling of home front needs.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Tuesday the criticism in his report on the management of the home front during last summer's Lebanon war will be "very sharp and liable to anger many."

In a tense meeting with the Kneset's State Control Committee, Lindenstrauss accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office of either delaying the transfer of material necessary for compiling the report or not handing it over at all.

But Lindenstrauss did not discuss the personal responsibility of political or military leaders regarding the home front, in accordance with an agreement reached with the High Court of Justice. The Israel Defense Forces had petitioned the court against the release of the report's interim findings.

Olmert's associates accused the state comptroller of spreading lies.

"We regret the errors and deceptions in the comments of the state comptroller, which do not respect the institution of the comptroller or the Knesset," an associate said. "It's clear to everyone that the comptroller marked Olmert as a target."

Lindenstrauss said he would not be swayed by the negative comments. "The stronger the criticism is, the more it draws fire," he said. "Nothing will influence me."

Lindenstrauss told the Knesset committee that the final report on the home front would be released in mid-June, some 11 months after the war began, and would include conclusions regarding individuals. He said the people and institutions examined in the report, a draft of which was submitted to them this week, will get a month or two to submit responses.

The comptroller said he had asked to meet with Olmert to hear his response to the report, but that the prime minister refused and asked for the questions to be submitted in writing. Lindenstrauss said he gave Olmert 12 questions on December 25 and asked for a reply by mid-February. He said he acceded to the prime minister's request to extend the deadline to the end of February, but that he has yet to receive a response.

"We do not accept such norms," said Lindenstrauss, adding that all the other ministers who were asked to testify or provide explanations had done so.

Government sources, however, disputed the dates Lindenstrauss used. The comptroller said he first asked Olmert for a response regarding the home front on August 22, but the sources said Lindenstrauss' first request, in which he asked Olmert to go to the comptroller's office, did not arrive until December 25. They said Olmert did not receive the questions themselves until January 31.

Government sources also said the comptroller contradicted himself in his comments to the control committee when he said Olmert could have answered the 12 questions quickly because he was preparing for his testimony before the Winograd Commission on the war and later said his report and the Winograd report were "investigating completely separate things."

Olmert associates also blasted Lindenstrauss for his comments on the investigation of the prime minister and his suspected political appointments in the Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority.

They said Lindenstrauss told the committee that Olmert had yet to submit his responses, whereas the responses had actually been submitted the previous day. They also accused the comptroller of sending Olmert partial evidentiary material in an effort to undermine his defense.