Tuesday, May 1, 2007
By Khalid Amayreh
"The Winograd report, issued by a government-appointed committee probing Israel's war on Lebanon last year, is already plunging the Israeli political arena into perplexity and instability reminiscent of the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The scathing report, released on Monday afternoon, castigated Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for “severe failure” in managing the war, which exposed nearly half of Israel’s population to Hezbollah rockets.
The report blamed Defence Minister Amir Peretz for “being unaware of the state of the Israeli army” and Dan Halutz, the former Chief of Staff, for “entering the war unprepared”, and for failing to inform the cabinet of the true state of the Israeli forces ahead of the ground invasion, which was delayed until the last phases of the war.
Presenting the report during a news conference in West Jerusalem, the head of the committee, retired judge, Eliyahu Winograd, argued that the outcome of the war could have been better had Olmert, Peretz and Halutz acted differently.
More to the point, the report blamed the entire Israeli government for the indecisive outcome of the war, saying the cabinet voted to go to war without understanding the implications of such a decision.....
A possible scenario, which might ensure Olmert’s political survival, at least for the time being, is the formation of a new government with new faces placing former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the helm of the Defence Ministry in lieu of the now-indicted Peretz.
Olmert might also decide to indulge in a number of political and military distractions to remain politically afloat.
This could take the form of a wide-scale military incursion into the Gaza Strip during which the Israeli army would kill many Palestinians and perhaps carry out assassinations, which Olmert hopes would allow him to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the Israeli public.
This is why the Palestinians ought to be wary of the repercussions and ramifications of political instability in Israel in the coming days and weeks.
Indeed, in the past, Israeli political divisions, especially ahead of general elections, reflected very badly on Palestinians as incumbent Israeli leaders sought to appease the Israeli public opinion and score popularity by hitting hard on the Palestinians, out of the realization that a politician’s public standing in Israel is measured by the extent to which he demonstrates brutal harshness toward the Palestinians.
It is true that the Winograd report is essentially an internal Israeli matter. However, with Israel as 'an army with a state' rather than 'a state with an army', and with the army itself leaning menacingly toward nationalistic and religious jingoism, the Palestinian Authority as well as Palestinian political factions should watch closely and carefully the political developments in Israel.
They should also refrain from any acts that might give the nervous political-military establishment in Israel an excuse [does Israel need excuses??] to launch another campaign of murder and terror against our people."