Israel Approves Investigation into Lebanon War

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, September 17, 2006 10:20 AM

JERUSALEM, Sept. 17--Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of an investigative committee nominated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to examine how the government and military managed the recent war in Lebanon.

The committee will be headed by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, and includes two professors and two retired major generals.

Although Olmert originally proposed a pair of panels to look into the war effort, the Winograd committee will investigate both the government and military's performance in the fight against Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia.

Since a United Nations-brokered cease-fire ended the combat last month after 33 days, Olmert has come under public pressure to name an independent state commission of inquiry to look into the war. The findings of such post-war commissions have been treated in the past as binding, particularly regarding personnel matters. But Olmert said a state inquiry would be a time-consuming distraction and nominated his own.

Before the 20 to 2 vote approving the panel, Olmert said the cabinet "intends to confer upon the committee the powers of a state commission of inquiry," which include the ability to subpoena witnesses.

Two ministers from the Labor Party, Olmert's senior coalition partner, voted against it.

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