debkafile Exclusive: The breach between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is final and irreconcilable
Our sources in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem report that the straw that broke the camel’s back happened on Wednesday, Sept. 6, when the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry failed to inform Halutz about the decision to lift the air, sea and land blockade of Lebanon the following day. The chief of General Staff and other generals heard about the decision – which Halutz was vehemently opposed to – through the media.
Olmert is now frankly telling his cabinet ministers and confidants that Halutz “was not a good military adviser to the prime minister during the Lebanon war,” although this is one of his primary functions. The prime minister is also accusing the chief of staff of having pressured him to approve the Israeli Air Force offensive at the outset of the Lebanon War persuading him that the air force could achieve a quick win. Halutz, he says did not accurately update him on the sites targeted for bombing or the progress of ground battles, leaving him short of data for the right decisions.
In Olmert’s opinion, the chief of staff dealt too slowly with the shortcomings displayed by the IDF’s Northern Command, its chief Maj.-Gen Udi Adam and the division commanders, instead of addressing them on the spot.
The main problem today, Olmert tells his close aides, is that Defense Minister Amir Peretz is standing in the way of Halutz’s dismissal knowing his own head would be next on the chopping block. This is clearly an invitation to the chief of staff to tender his resignation.
According to the military sources reporting to debkafile, the general view in the armed forces is that the prime minister hopes to scapegoat the chief of staff for the Lebanon war’s failures. He is therefore “forgetting” the many instances when he turned down recommendations and plans presented him by the General Staff and preferred to consult with his military secretary, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. He gave more weight to their advice than to the recommendations made by Lt.-Gen Halutz.