This Just in From Ha’aretz
Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni, speaking for the first time since the release of a partial report on the conduct of the Second Lebanon War, said Wednesday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must resign in the wake of the harsh criticism in the report.
Speaking after an hour-long meeting with Ehud Olmert on Wednesday afternoon, Livni said that she had supported the decision to launch a military opertation on July 12, but had voted against an escalation of the hostilities. She also said there had been no coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office during the war.
Ahead of the meeting, Livni aides turned aside a report that she would threaten to resign as foreign minister if Olmert stayed on, saying that she had no plans to quit “for the present.”
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The cabinet convened Wednesday to discuss the Winograd report on the failures of the Second Lebanon War, amidst calls on the prime minister to resign in light of the report’s findings. At the start of the meeting, Olmert restated that the conclusions of the Winograd Commission were very severe. “Immediately upon receiving the report I read it and studied it thoroughly. It reveals the very serious failings of the government and naturally of myself – as the person who is heading it,” he said. The cabinet decided to appoint a committee to review the document and make specific recommendations The committee, which will be headed by former Army Chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, will be asked to submit to the cabinet within a month of its appointment a list of operative measures that should be carried out.The cabinet is also expected to form a ministerial committee, headed by Olmert himself, to monitor the report’s implementation. Olmert also leveled a scathing remark at his political opponents, saying, “I recommend to all those who are in a hurry to take advantage of this situation to cool down.In the meeting, Livni demanded that Foreign Ministry officials be included in all security discussion.
“We must immediately fix the failures… We should not have waited for the (Winograd) report and we should not wait for a committee to implement its conclusions to realize that the Foreign Ministry should be included in security discussions. Foreign Ministry officials should be invited to participate in all security meetings taking place from now on,” said Livni during the cabinet meeting.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday (9AM EDT), Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are scheduled to meet fore the first time since the report was released. According to reports on Wednesday morning, Livni is expected to call on Olmert to step down, thus making it unlikely that the foreign minister would remain in the government.Livni, reports said, will likely inform the prime minister at a Wednesday afternoon meeting that if he does not resign within a reasonable time frame, she will leave the cabinet and work toward forcing him out of office.Earlier, Coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki (Kadima) also threatened to leave his post, declaring on Wednesday morning that if Olmert did not heed calls to quit, he himself would resign from his position as coalition head.Speaking to Israel Radio, Yitzhaki, who has been working to secure support for toppling Olmert since the war report came out on Monday afternoon, said that if Olmert were to continue in his current position, it would mean suicide for Kadima.
Meanwhile, sources close to Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Ynet that he was seriously contemplating the possibility of resigning, and that he may do so before the Labor primary elections are held at the end of the month. The spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that Peretz had met with a Labor activist earlier Wednesday, who had leaked their conversation, but exaggerated indicated that the resignation may come earlier. Amir Peretz, under intense pressure from within his Labor Party in the wake of the Winograd Commission findings on his conduct of the Second Lebanon War, is considering submitting his resignation as defense ministry soon, perhaps within the coming hours.
This story compiled from Jnet, Ynet and Haaretz