Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Peretz to resign in wake of inquiry: media

Israel FM calls on prime minister to resign
May 02 2007 at 12:32PM

Jerusalem - Defence Minister Amir Peretz is to resign in the wake of a damning inquiry that said he failed in his post during the Lebanon war, Israeli media reported on Wednesday citing his aides.

"Mr Peretz is to announce his resignation in the coming hours," army and public radio reported.

"Mr Peretz took this decision as he is ratifying the report's conclusions and is aiming to conform to norms of behaviour required of those who exercise public office," the website of the tabloid Maariv quoted a Peretz aide as saying.

The office of Peretz, the leader of Olmert's main coalition partner Labour, declined to comment on the reports.

Should Peretz resign, he will become the most senior casualty of the Winograd Commission interim report on last year's war against Hezbollah that was issued on Monday.

The report roasted Peretz, a former trade unionist whose military experience was limited to national army service before he assumed his post, saying he "failed in fulfilling his functions."

The resignation of the 55-year-old Peretz would pile the pressure on Olmert to follow suit amid an open mutiny within his party for him to step down.

The Winograd report blasted Olmert for serious failure during the 34-day war that killed more than 1 200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, according to government figures.

The war failed to achieve the Jewish state's main goals of freeing two soldiers seized by Hezbollah in a deadly cross-border raid on July 12 that sparked the hostilities and stopping the Shi'a militia's rocket fire into northern Israel that killed dozens of civilians.

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