State Comptroller Responds / Lindenstrauss: Only PM Can Decide Whether He Should Quit

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss yesterday rejected the criticism of the home front report expressed by the Prime Minister's Office. "The report isn't a matter of feelings. The criticism is professional, and I hope that everyone who reads it and needs to implement [its findings] will behave in a statesmanlike manner," Lindenstrauss said when asked whether he felt the PMO's response to the report was directed against him personally.

Responding to the PMO's objection to the fact that the report's summary was not included in the report, the comptroller said, "The report is of a whole and includes the summary. Both were produced by the same staff in the State Comptroller's Office and reflect, in a thorough and professional manner, what we discovered and what preceded the war."

To the question of whether he recommended the resignations of the subjects of the report, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Lindenstrauss said, "the decision must be taken by the person himself. Anyone who feels someone must make a decision between himself and his conscience, or between himself and the Knesset. It is not the role of the state comptroller to take a stand on the issue."

"There is no compromise in criticism, no mediation, no use of pretty language and no obfuscation. Criticism must be sharp, definitive, piercing, transparent, direct and above all professional and based on facts that have been checked and rechecked. The criticism must be courageous and fair. That is how the State Comptroller's Office has always behaved and this is how we behaved this time as well," Lindenstrauss emphasized.

Knesset Speaker MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) said she did not think Lindenstrauss was targeting the government of the prime minister. "It is important that the report be not personal, but rather aimed at aiding the people of Israel. I hope the prime minister's response reflects this. It is important to take the personal issue off the agenda." Itzik announced she would be adding two positions to the State Control Committee in order to hold a hearing for cabinet ministers.

"The delegitimization of the comptroller as a defense against the need to correct the problems must not be permitted," State Control Committee Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) said. "The phenomenon of delegitimizing the comptroller disturbs me. No 'spin' can undermine the findings of the report or keep anyone from coming to conclusions, even if they turn out to be personal."