Today the Knesset began a lively debate on the Winograd Report and the future of the government. Many of the comments got right to the heart of the matter. With his mismanagement of the war, Olmert has given terrorists all across the world a greater degree of confidence, pushed real peace further away, and has probably caused an additional loss of life due to terrorism, not only in Israel, but in the US and across the world. Below are some Highlights of the Debate.

Bibi Netanyahu Likud:

“I have said before: If our enemies lay down their swords, there will be peace, but if we lay down our swords, we simply won’t be at all. This is the clearest message of the Winograd report – that our sword is held by a weak hand. I quote from the report: ‘This is the first time in Israeli war history that a war in which we were involved ended without our clear victory… as our enemies saw as well.’ This is something we cannot afford.

“We gave total backing to the government to achieve its aims and remove the threat. We thought, then, that there was someone we could count on. But in actuality, there was no leadership. The government failed twice – in its performance, and in its reading of the situation. The government was deeply entrenched in its conception of unilateral withdrawals – a policy that failed. In the north it failed, and in the south it is failing. This policy did not advance the peace that we all want; peace cannot be achieved via one-sided moves, but with dialogue with those of our enemy who want to end war. The time has now come to make the necessary changes and corrections. We must restore our deterrence and self-respect.”

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Effie Eitam, National Union Party (He addressed his remarks directly to the government ministers)

“We see you in your shame and embarrassment, hiding behind Ehudgrad, the ruins of your government, knowing that your time is up yet refusing to go. A good democracy doesn’t need [rallies in] public squares – it has representatives, etc. But there are times when the government is no longer the public’s representative, but only that of itself and its desire for power. That time is now. Tonight we will see in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv that that is the situation now.

“There is a very broad consensus, wall to wall, united in their desire to see you go home. You, Olmert, say you will fix the faults – but you are the main fault.”

Danny Yatom, Labor Party

“You have failed in all that is concerned with the Second Lebanon War. The time of responsibility has arrived. You must now show leadership – that which was so sorely missing during the war – and quit. This crisis is among the worst in the history of the State. You have lost the confidence of the voters, and you can no longer represent them. Instead of spending your time dealing with political survival, there is a country that has to be run.”

Yaakov Cohen,United Torah Judaism:

“The Winograd report points out a series of errors and faults – including those regarding the home front. Public buildings, shelters, hospitals, supplies were not ready – only the volunteer organizations dealt with the people of the north. It was as if there was no government. This is totally the Prime Minister’s personal responsibility. And now, nine months later, still no lessons have been learned, everything remains the same; the children and the needy of the home front remain abandoned. The government has failed in all aspects. It has no Divine help – and the reason is because it abandoned the children and the needy. The Prime Minister’s decision are not made based on what is good for the people, but rather on what his strategic public relations consultants say…”

Zahava Gal’on, Meretz

“Mr. Prime Minister, this was the Lebanon casino. You and your government treated the lives of the IDF soldier and the north with disdain. You gambled on their lives. The war was unnecessary and bad. 119 soldiers and 44 citizens were killed because of your bad and wanton leadership. The Winograd report leaves no choice but for all of you to resign. You are all responsible, you nonchalantly went out to war, but you endangered the soldiers’ lives merely for the sake of your government’s image. You have failed terribly as leaders. You are a group of politicians who did not know your responsibility; you used brawn instead of brains. The entire Olmert government should go – but you personally, Mr. Prime Minister, are responsible for everything – for the poor planning, the performance, the rush, the setting of absurd goals, etc…”

Poor Leadership, emboldening the enemy, bad decisions based on a bad decision making process–need I say more?