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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Israeli papers turn on Olmert, army
Israeli Press

An onslaught of criticism greets the Israeli government in the country's press, a day after the cease-fire in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the Israeli military came into force.

Commentators note that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed to achieve the objectives that he had himself set out at the start of the fighting, primarily the release of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah and the destruction of Hezbollah's fighting capacity.

Some papers focus their attack on the Israel Defence Forces and, in particular, Chief-of-Staff Dan Halutz, who is accused of overconfidence and of failing Israel.

HA'ARETZ

On the basis of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech at the Knesset yesterday, it appears that the sense of failure felt by the public has yet to permeate the government. Olmert referred to the Israel Defence Forces' "action" as a move that resulted in a strategic change in the Middle East. This statement comes before it has become clear that the cease-fire is holding, that the abducted soldiers have been released, that the Lebanese army has been deployed in the south, and that Hezbollah is indeed being disarmed and is not replenishing its arsenal... If the prime minister's speech signals the start of an era of demagogy instead of self-examination, then the conclusion must be that he is not endowed with the necessary humility and courage to lead the essential shake-up of the system.

Commentary in MA'ARIV

Endless blunders have been revealed in this war... Politicians' statements ("Nasrallah will not forget Peretz", "the face of the Middle East has changed") have been revealed as haughty, arrogant statements. But one does not set up a commission of inquiry over arrogant statements. The army's assessments had been wrong ("give us only a few more days", "the Air Force is capable of eliminating the rocket threat")... He who wants voodoo ceremonies, let him set up commissions. He who wants to change things, let him deal with the blunders: a systematic, focused examination of the functioning of many in the army and the home front.

Commentary in YEDIOT AHARONOT

For the first time, it will be said that the generals stuck a knife in the back of politicians and not vice versa. What will the army do? How will it shake off the responsibility? Let me guess. The army will claim with the polite help of flocks of politicians and media from the right that its "moral values" worked against it... [That] the politicians were ready for an historic victory at any price but the army prevented this because of its natural gentleness.

Commentary in JERUSALEM POST

We do not need a commission [of inquiry] to know what happened or what has to happen. The Olmert government has failed on every level. The Olmert government must go. The Knesset must vote no confidence in this government and new elections must be carried out as soon as the law permits. If the Knesset hesitates in taking this required step, then the people of Israel must take to the streets in mass demonstrations and demand that our representatives send Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Amir Peretz and their comrades out to pasture.

Commentary in HA'ARETZ

Ehud Olmert stepped into Sharon's extra large shoes without having the qualities of a true leader. He tried to talk like Churchill, but the Chamberlain in him crept through. In his first speech to the nation, he pledged to wipe out Hezbollah and stop the rockets from falling on Israel. In his second speech he promised that his achievements would change the face of the Middle East... Since, I assume, Olmert didn't pull this stuff out of a hat, my guess is that the chief-of-staff convinced him. [Israel Defence Forces chief-of-staff Dan] Halutz was the leader, and Olmert was led... The man who failed, who deluded us, who was overconfident and transmitted the disease to the government, is the chief-of-staff. He should be the one to go.

Commentary in YEDIOT AHARONOT

Ehud Olmert gave his version of the war and this version, which was presented at the Knesset plenum, will become the official version that his advisers, lawyers, associates and supporters will present when they try to prevent the establishment of a commission of inquiry, to stabilise the coalition and prevent unrest in the Kadima party... It was an expected speech, yet important for its timing: when all are attentive to messages, when public sentiments have not completely crystallised. That's why Olmert turned yesterday to all with feelings of thank you and a big embrace.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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