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PM Ehud Olmert: Yes, We Made Mistakes In The War But There Were Also Amazing Achievements

Apparently Referring To Syria: They Now Understand The Price They Will Have To Pay For A Military Operation Against Israel

Knesset Members Blast Olmerts Conduct Of War Demanding State Enquiry

PM Ehud Olmert

Appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said there was no doubt that Israels neighbors now understood the price for attacking Israel. This he said was only one of many achievements in the war with Hezbollah. However, nearly all the Knesset Members criticized Olmert and demanded an official judicial enquiry.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has lashed out at critics of his conduct of the war in Lebanon. Olmert declared: Although there were some failures there were also amazing results.

The Prime Minister again rejected the demand of nearly all committee members for an official state enquiry into the war. He repeated that this would paralyze the IDF at a time it should be correcting its failings. Olmert banged on the table telling the Knesset members they had a role to play in boosting morale calling their criticism out of all proportion. He went on to say:Look at the U.S. - it hasn't collapsed after three years of fighting in Iraq. Why all the panic, we all made mistakes and no other government was ready to cope with the danger of Hezbollah. Olmert obviously had Syria in mind when he declared: I have no doubt that no adjacent country will now consider a military operation against Israel for a marginal tactical gain because they understand the price they will have to pay. And more specifically: The Syrians understand our strategic capability when we drop our self-imposed restraints that existed in south Lebanon.

As for negotiations with President Bashar Assad, this was not on the cards at present. Olmert said: 'I don't think we can consider a political process with Syria in the near future. Syria was the focus of terrorism, the terrorist headquarters were located in Damascus and Syria was the main arms supplier to Hezbollah.' Olmerts unilateral convergence plan for the West Bank was no longer a priority in the new reality. Israel had no interest in dodging the Palestinian issue but other ways were needed to deal with it. The Prime Minister referred to the Shabak warning that the Gaza Strip could turn into Lebanon II saying there was no more pressing problem that the Palestinian. But there would be no meeting with Chairman Mahmoud Abbas until kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was returned.

Most Knesset members did not agree with Olmerts upbeat take on the war. Labor MK Matan Vilnayie said Israel had never been in such a fix. Vilnayie, a retired IDF general, argued: It was the first time the IDF had been defeated on the battle-field. It was not only a crisis for the Prime Minister and his government but for the country as a whole and how it was perceived. That was why an official state enquiry was needed to uncover the truth; otherwise it could lead to a catastrophe in the future.

Meretz MK Ran Cohen also hauled Olmert over the coals as a total failure. He charged the Prime Minister appeared to be smug in his presentation.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee is due to hold a special session to demand a state enquiry into the war. Likud Knesset Member Silvan Shalom is also leading a drive to collect the signatures of 61 MKs to force the government to set up the state enquiry. Ehud Olmert may be left with no choice. He may already be thinking of his defense. Today the PM said that at no stage of the war was there the goal of conquering Lebanese territory. And that he had approved every IDF plan to achieve the wars objectives.

David Essing

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