Leading article: A disastrous war and a weakened leader

Share
Related Topics

The Winograd Commission into the 2006 Lebanon war has already drawn blood in the form of the departure of the Israeli Defence minister and Chief-of-Staff who were in office at the time of the operation. But Winograd looks unlikely to force the resignation of the man many Israelis hold responsible above all others for the debacle: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The commission's final report, released yesterday, condemns the handling of the contentious ground invasion launched in the final days of the conflict, but says the decision was based on an "honest assessment" of Israeli interests. Mr Olmert's aides were no doubt breathing a sigh of relief yesterday.

Credit must be given to the Israeli government for establishing the Winograd Commission. It is worth remembering that we in Britain are still waiting for an independent inquiry into our participation in the invasion of Iraq. But the plain fact remains that the 2006 Lebanon war was a disaster from the start.

Its cost in blood was grave. More than 1,000 Lebanese were killed, most of them civilians, and about 160 Israelis. And thousands of lethal cluster munitions were left behind in southern Lebanon as a result of the bombardment. The operation also failed utterly in its strategic objective of eliminating the threat posed by the Shia Muslim guerrilla force, Hizbollah. Indeed, the invasion had the effect of strengthening the political influence of its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Perhaps the most significant domestic legacy of the war was the damage inflicted on the Israeli psyche. One of the most technologically advanced military forces in the world was unable to deal a knock-out blow to guerrilla fighters armed with low-tech missiles. It was a far cry from the 1967 war in which Israel routed the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in just six days. The political situation in Israel remains fragile after this report. The Labor leader Ehud Barak could yet bow to pressure from within his party to withdraw from Mr Olmert's coalition and bring down the government. But elections would only boost the hardline Likud party. Polls show that its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, would take power if new elections were held. This would be fatal to the government's peace talks with Fatah, which are supported by Labor.

No lethal blow was delivered by yesterday's report, but with its powerful condemnation of "grave failings" it cannot but weaken Mr Olmert, who also remains dogged by allegations of corruption.

There are also serious doubts about whether the Prime Minister is strong enough to negotiate a viable agreement with the Fatah wing of the Palestinian leadership. Mr Olmert may cling to office, but a weak Israeli Prime Minister offers little hope of serious progress towards peace in the region.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine