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Friday, December 8, 2006

[Israel]: PMO withheld documents pertaining to war probe

PMO withheld documents pertaining to war probe
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent 8 December 2006

The Prime Minister's office delayed over three months the transfer to the
State Comptroller's Office of documents pertaining to cabinet and security
cabinet meetings relevant to the war in Lebanon. The matter was only
resolved in recent days, after the comptroller more clearly defined the
war-related subjects he intended to deal with.

The dispute between the offices of the prime minister and the state
comptroller emerged when the latter requested to see documents on cabinet
meetings relating to the second Lebanon war.

The request was turned down, with the Prime Minister's Office maintaining
that documents that include top secret information could not be released. It
was also claimed that the areas to be investigated by the comptroller must
be clearly defined before any material would be made available.

Meetings between the prime minister's chief of staff, Yoram Turbowitz;
Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon; the director general of the
comptroller's office, Shlomo Gur; and Major General (res.) Mandy Or, head of
the department investigating defense issues at the state comptroller's
office, came to naught.

According to the Basic Law on the State Comptroller, a body being
investigated must present, without delay, documents and information and any
other material that the comptroller considers necessary for his work.
Nonetheless, so long as the dispute continued, no documents were forthcoming
to the comptroller. A solution to the impasse was found only when the areas
on which the comptroller's investigation would focus were specified.

It was agreed that the state comptroller will not deal with the conduct of
the war or the government decisions in its various forums, or in various
operations. Nonetheless, there are still many areas that the state
comptroller can investigate, some of them sensitive.

The comptroller, for example, will examine the pre-war readiness of the
Israel Defense Forces, including the state of emergency stores, logistics,
and the training of reserve units. The comptroller will also look into
different aspects of readiness having to do with intelligence. Teams of
staff from the comptroller's office will probe the readiness of the Home
Front, the local authorities, the conduct of these bodies following the
outbreak of hostilities, preparations for bomb shelters and plans for
dealing with dangerous substances. Israel's public relations will also be

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