Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Israeli Chief of Staff Halutz Resigns. Are Olmert and Peretz Next?

Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz resigned today, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. His resignation is a belated response to the sorry performance of the IDF command in the Lebanon war of this past summer. Speculation among senior IDF officers is that Halutz made his decision, an abrupt turnabout from his previously expressed intention to remain in the IDF, after receiving inside information that he would be treated harshly in the report on the Lebanon war by the government-appointed Winograd Commission, which is expected to release its findings in February.

My reaction to this news accords with that of Knesset Member Arye Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party), who remarked, according to the Jerusalem Post, that it was a "shame that [Halutz] wasted four precious months needed to rehabilitate the IDF." The Hedgehog Blog called for his resignation on August 15,2006, shortly after the ceasefire in Lebanon took effect, when it was disclosed that General Halutz had sold his stock holdings on the Tel Aviv stock exchange immediately prior to the initiation of IDF military action, thereby avoiding loss from the decline in stock prices during the war.

Four days prior to that post, on August 11, 2006, the Hedgehog Blog also called for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Now, following the Halutz resignation, and with Olmert's job approval in recent polls down to 14%, would be a good time for Mr. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to finally pay the political price for their failures. Mr. Eldad concurred with that sentiment today, saying, "Now, Amir Peretz and Ehud Olmert have to go, because the entire country, and not just the IDF, needs to be purified." Other government critics on the center-right agreed, saying that Olmert and Peretz would be unable to bring about the rapid reform of the IDF that is necessary if Israel is to be prepared for renewed fighting with Hezbollah, which many analysts expect will break out as soon as this summer.


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