Olmert testifies over Lebanon war

The Winograd commission is due to present its findings in the coming weeks.

    Olmert is the last of about 70 senior officials to
    testify before the commission [AFP]

    Your Views

    "The war on Lebanon was a disaster for Lebanon and Israel"
     

    Nehad Ismail, London, UK

     

    It was set up amid a chorus of public criticism of the country's leadership in the wake of the 34-day war in Lebanon that failed to achieve its main goals of freeing two captured Israeli soldiers and stopping Hezbollah rocket fire.

    Address

    Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's Jerusalem correspondent, said that Olmert was certain to have made a number of key points to the committee.

    "On the question of the decision to go to war in the first place, he will argue forcibly that [he took] the right decision, and that it was important for Israel to react decisively when Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers [in a cross-border raid]" she said.

     

    "He will also say that the decision to go to war was supported by the whole cabinet."

     

    Rowland also said that Olmert felt that the war in Lebanon was a broad success.

     

    "If there is one main message that Mr Olmert wants to convey to the commission, it is the notion that Israel actually won the war in Lebanon and achieved a number of key objectives – notably, getting Hezbollah forces away from Israel's northern border and getting the Lebanese army and UN peacekeeping forces deployed in [southern Lebanon, close to Israel's northern border]," she said.

     

    Political price

    Should the commission find Olmert directly responsible for the perceived failures of the war, it will be the latest blow to strike the premier.

    As the hearing is not a state commission, only a government commission, it does not have the power to remove Olmert from power. 

    Nonetheless, a negative report of Olmert's performance by the commission would further damage his political career.

    His popularity rating is falling to single digits amid a string of scandals involving him and senior members of his government.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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