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Olmert faces key test in war critique today

After a scathing preview, a final report is due.

Associated Press
Published January 30, 2008


JERUSALEM - An investigative panel looking into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of the 2006 war in Lebanon will release its final report today, in what could be the tipping point of Olmert's political future.

The report's conclusions also may factor into whether Olmert's government lasts long enough or is strong enough to reach the ambitious goal of forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of the year.

The government-appointed commission's report will deal with the war's last 28 days. A scathing interim report released by the panel in April accused Olmert of "severe failures" and hasty decisions at the beginning of the 34-day war against Hezbollah guerrillas.

Between 1,035 and 1,191 Lebanese civilians and combatants were killed in the war, as were 119 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians, according to official figures from the two sides.

Olmert was able to beat back calls for his resignation after the interim report was released. This time, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, is under pressure to deliver on his promise to replace Olmert or advance elections after the full report is published.

If Barak pulls Labor's 19-member faction out of the coalition, Olmert would no longer have a parliamentary majority and could be forced to call an election. His coalition now controls 67 of Parliament's 120 seats.

Radical Islamic leader indicted

An Israeli court indicted the leader of a radical branch of Israel's Islamic Movement on Tuesday on charges of racism and incitement to violence over a 2007 speech in which he allegedly called for a new Palestinian uprising to stop Israeli renovation near a disputed holy site. Sheik Raed Salah led violent protests against work adjacent to the hilltop where the al-Aqsa mosque compound was built over the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples.

Associated Press

[Last modified January 30, 2008, 02:12:34]

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