- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

1:04 p.m.

JERUSALEM (AP) — A government commission that investigated Israel’s summer war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today of “severe failure,” saying he hastily led the country into the conflict without a comprehensive plan.

A close aide said Mr. Olmert would not resign despite strident calls for his resignation from coalition partners as well as opponents.

A copy of the report obtained by Associated Press cited a “severe failure in the lack of judgment, responsibility and caution.”

Mr. Olmert, after receiving a copy of the panel’s findings, said that “failures will be remedied.”

Mr. Olmert and his defense minister, Amir Peretz, who took office with limited security experience less than two months before the war, already had lost much of their public support because of the conflict, begun when Hezbollah guerrillas captured two soldiers and killed three others in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Relying heavily on massive air strikes recommended by the military chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, Mr. Olmert pledged to his people that Israel would crush Hezbollah and force return of the captured soldiers. Neither goal was accomplished, and Gen. Halutz already has resigned.

Cabinet Secretary Israel Maimon said the prime minister “is not considering resignation.”

“It is right to state as clearly as possible: The report lists difficulties, failures and mistakes by all the leaders, including the prime minister,” Mr. Maimon told Israel Radio. “The question is, what do we do now?”

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