The Investigation Is Over

A commission of inquiry is not the proper tool - neither in the hands of the coalition nor in the hands of the opposition - for conducting the battles between them.

Prof. Yehezkel Dror, a member of the Winograd Committee, would have done well to show restraint similar to that demonstrated by his colleagues and to refrain from being interviewed on any political subject in the days after the committee submitted its report. Discussing what Dror really meant in an interview with the daily Maariv is almost secondary. The very fact a member of the Winograd Committee agreed to discuss such topics as whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is promoting a diplomatic process or who will replace him is unfortunate and liable to cause severe and superfluous damage to the committee's legitimacy.

The members of an investigative committee who deal with a subject of national importance must remain distant and restrained like judges, and avoid any political discussion for a certain period after finishing their work.

Nevertheless, the reactions to Dror's words are no less problematic. Several politicians said the Winograd Report should be tossed on the ash heap of history, and MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) even described the committee as "corrupt." There must be a limit even to the cynical reactions politicians hasten to send to journalists' beepers.

The implementation of the Winograd Committee's conclusions is a matter of life and death for us all. The willingness to toss out the report, its conclusions, its recommendations and the hard work invested in it should be roundly condemned, as should the claim that the report is worthless.

The reactions once again prove that many critics believe that the Winograd Committee was not an investigative committee at all, but a kind of hired hangman. From the moment it failed to deliver the required political blood, its extensive work is of no importance. Erdan's words represent disgraceful incitement and should be handled by the Knesset Ethics Committee.

A more troubling matter is the attempt by the head of the Knesset State Control Committee, MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), to establish a state commission of inquiry in the hope it will deliver the goods the Winograd Committee refused to deliver. For a year and a half Israeli society has been living in the shadow of an investigative committee.

The result has been a lame political arrangement that was unable to plan anything for the long term, and in which everything was weighed based on the question of whether it would help bring down the government.

The army may have drawn conclusions, conducted training exercises and rehabilitated units, but the social wound has not healed.

The submission of the Winograd Report is the moment when society can and must go forward, dealing with future challenges and dangers. The last thing Israel needs now is another long period of investigation, political instability, protests, testimony, demonstrations and pain.

Anyone who wants to establish a state commission of inquiry does not seek the good of the country and is not interested in discovering the truth. All he wants is a commission that will do the work the political establishment is unable to do; a commission that will bring about Olmert's dismissal.

It is legitimate to demand Olmert's removal, or to support going to elections. But all this must be done on the political playing field. A commission of inquiry is not the proper tool - neither in the hands of the coalition nor in the hands of the opposition - for conducting the battles between them.