Israeli PM stays on job after war report

Updated: 2008-01-31 16:15

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stays on his job after the release of the Winograd Committee's final report on the Second Lebanon war on Wednesday, though amid heightened call for his resignation.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister's Office said that Olmert takes the Winograd Committee's final report with "complete seriousness," adding that the government would in the coming days begin the "process of implementing the recommendations" contained in the final report.

Eliyahu Winograd, chairman of Israel's Winograd Committee probing into the performance of the government and the army during2006's Second Lebanon War, said earlier on Wednesday that "major faults were found on all levels during the war."

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The committee said in the final report that it found "severe failures and faults in the decision making process, both in the political and military echelon."

Terming the war a "great and serious missed opportunity," Winograd told a press conference in Jerusalem that "Israel embarked on a prolonged war that it initiated, which ended without a clear Israeli victory from a military standpoint."

However, the report stopped short of blaming Olmert personally for what many Israelis saw as a stunning fiasco in the month-long war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. Winograd also said that Olmert had acted in what he thought was "Israel's best interest."

Olmert has repeatedly said he would not step down after the findings are released.

"I have been asked many times what would happen this week," Olmert told his faction members during a Kadima meeting on Monday," You can be calm, we have many more years to govern."

Meanwhile, the opposition party Likud issued a statement calling the report severe and demanding that Olmert resign.

According to the Likud, the report placed responsibility for the war's failures squarely on the shoulders of the political echelon headed by the prime minister, who therefore must take personal responsibility and step down.

The Likud statement also called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who had vowed to pull his Labor Party out of the government by the release of the final report, to fulfill his promise.

"If Barak was looking for an excuse in the report to avoid resigning, he didn't find it," the statement said.

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