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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Olmert braces for Lebanon probe
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert has vowed to stay in office and implement Winograd
Israel's prime minister and defence minister are expected to face harsh criticism from a committee of inquiry examining the Lebanon war in 2006.

PM Ehud Olmert is expected to face charges of haste in going to war, according to leaks from an interim report to be presented later on Monday.

He will also be criticised for weakness in challenging the military's lead.

His defence minister, Amir Peretz, is expected to be censured for being inexperienced and short-sighted.

Retired judge Eliahu Winograd is due to present his findings at a news conference at 1700 local time (1400 GMT).

The BBC's Tim Franks in Jerusalem says, while Mr Olmert's coalition may survive the damning report within parliament, he is dealing with unprecedented levels of unpopularity among the Israeli public.

Former chief of staff Dan Halutz, who has already resigned, will be blamed for consistently pursuing the wrong tactics and strategy, it is thought.

Cabinet backing

Israel launched the war on Lebanon after Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli troops in a deadly cross-border raid. They remain in captivity.

About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the conflict.

The prime minister respects the committee and he will respect the recommendations
Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin

The committee of inquiry aims to still the wave of disquiet following the outcome of the war, widely perceived to have been a failure in Israel.

Monday's findings concern the period between Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 up to 17 July 2006, five days after Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were snatched.

The full findings of the five-member Winograd committee are expected to be published later in the year.

Mr Olmert's aides have been preparing his defence, arguing that the entire cabinet backed the move to war, and saying he is willing to implement all the committee's recommendations.

"The prime minister appointed the committee. He respects the committee and he will respect the recommendations of the committee," his spokeswoman Miri Eisin said.

Observers say the fate of Mr Olmert's government will be decided by the public reaction to the findings.

A rally to call for his resignation is planned for Thursday in Tel Aviv.


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