Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may order a state inquiry into the Lebanon war, Channel 1 Television reported on Wednesday, a move that could trigger a political and military shake-up.
The station said Olmert was “considering favorably” setting up a state inquiry commission to review the handling of the offensive against Hezbollah. Such a body, usually chaired by a supreme court judge, has wide powers and holds public hearings.
A government official said Olmert had discussed with the attorney general the types of commissions that could examine the war and would probably make a decision by Thursday evening.
“He got the various recommendations from the attorney general today and is certainly looking at all the different implications,” the official told Reuters.
“He is not opposed to it,” the official said, when asked about the state inquiry.
Other officials have previously indicated Olmert did not want the country to get bogged down in a major inquiry, but criticism has mounted over the conduct of the 34-day war in the wake of a truce that took effect last week.
Army reservists have said the military was ill-prepared for the conflict and indecisive in the campaign. Some critics have called for Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to quit after the military failed to crush Hezbollah.
A state inquiry commission has subpoena and investigative powers and usually sits for months. Its recommendations are non-binding but are made public, making their adoption by the government nearly certain.
Other commissions have lesser powers.
State inquiry commissions into Israel’s past wars have forced the resignation of top officials and military leaders.
In the wake of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the Kahan commission’s recommendations led to the resignation of then defense minister Ariel Sharon over the massacre of Palestinians in two refugee camps by Israel’s Christian militia allies there.
That commission found Sharon indirectly responsible for the killings, findings he rejected.
Israel launched its offensive last month against Hezbollah after the guerrilla group abducted two soldiers and killed eight others in a cross-border raid on July 12. The war killed nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis.