Olmert faces Lebanon backlash

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, is facing growing criticism over his handling of the Lebanon crisis, as opposition politicians say the conflict was mismanaged.

    Support for Olmert's Kadima party has slumped

    On Monday, the Israeli premier was heckled during his speech to the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, with opposition MPs demanding a commission of inquiry into the conduct of the battle.

    Olmert, who said that responsibility for the military operation lay with him, said there were "shortcomings" in the offensive against Hezbollah but urged patience, arguing that the Israeli army had "publically battered this murderous organisation".

    However, Benyamin Netanyahu, opposition leader in the Knesset, said that the government's policy had "expressed weakness".

    "There were failures in identifying the threat, in managing the war, and in comforting the home front," he said.

    Netanyahu also dismissed the United Nations-brokered ceasefire which began on Monday morning as merely a brief lull which would only enable Hezbollah to re-arm.

    More than 150 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died during the conflict in Lebanon, while about 1,100 Lebanese, mainly civilians, were also killed. 

     

    Domestic anger

    An opinion poll conducted by an Israeli newspaper late on Monday showed support for Olmert's Kadima party had slumped since the conflict in Lebanon began, with more than half of those questioned saying they felt the Israeli army had not achieved its aims in Lebanon.

    Critics of the campaign say that Olmert failed to crush the Hezbollah Shia militia group as promised and express doubt that the operation will halt  rocket attacks into northern Israel.

    Meanwhile, Israeli newspapers on Tuesday quoted Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, as saying that he planned to assign a task force to investigate the Israeli army's conduct during the war in Lebanon.

    "As defence minister, I intend to appoint a team that will conduct an intensive, comprehensive investigation of all the events leading up to the war and during the war,"

    he said.

    Israel's Jerusalem Post also reported that Micha Lindenstrauss, Israel's state comptroller, will lead a second investigation into preparations for the war in the home front, while the Knesset foreign affairs and defence committee will form a third parliamentary probe into the war.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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