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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Olmert in dispute with state comptroller

State comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said today that an 'order' from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Lindenstrauss investigate the (un)readiness for war on the home front was 'illegal' and would compromise the comptroller's independence. Olmert is 'astounded.'

The Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday that it was "astounded" to hear of complaints by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss over a plan for him to investigate the wartime readiness of Israel's home front.

The PMO added that the law explicitly states that the State Comptroller is bound to write an opinion when requested to do so by the cabinet.

Lindenstrauss earlier Tuesday reprimanded Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for having announced that the government would ask him to carry out the investigation, saying that the proposal was against the law and would compromise the independence of the Comptroller's office.

The exchange also followed a flap in which senior officials in the Labor Party, the key partner in Ehud Olmert's coalition government, openly expressed opposition to Olmert's announced intention to appoint a number of investigative committees rather than a full state inquiry into the conduct of the war.

Olmert decided that the issue of the preparedness of the home front would not be included within the brief of the governmental panel of inquiry, and asked that the investigation be handled by the comptroller.

Lindenstrauss issued a statement Tuesday saying that under the law, only the comptroller and his office were authorized to decide on the investigations they undertake. It was important that the cabinet be scrupulous regarding the independence of the comptroller's office, the statement said.

The Prime Minister's Office responded that it was "astounded to hear from the media of the comptroller's complaints."

The PMO cited a clause of the Comptroller's Law stating that "the Comptroller is obligated to the prepare a ruling on every issue within his purview, whether asked to do so by the Knesset or by the cabinet."
This all may not be an issue. It sounds like Olmert's whitewash plan may not even make it through his own cabinet. People are starting to be more concerned with their own political futures than with saving Olmert's job.

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