Israeli PM to Appoint Panel to Investigate Recent Lebanon Fighting

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday he would appoint a panel to review the performance of the government and army during the recent fighting in Lebanon, officials said.

Critics have accused the army and government of overseeing a messy war with an unclear outcome and wavering when key decisions needed to be made.

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Olmert announced the inquiry at his Cabinet's weekly meeting, but did not clarify what authorities the panel would have, officials said. He said he would coordinate his decision with the attorney general and ask the Cabinet to approve the panel's formation in the coming days.

Participants in the Cabinet meeting said the panel apparently would not have the authority to make personal recommendations about people involved in the decision-making process. Some Cabinet ministers called for an official government inquiry, In 1982, an official inquiry with broad authorities forced Ariel Sharon to resign his post as defense minister after a first Israeli war in Lebanon.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz has already appointed his own panel to look into the army's performance during the war that erupted July 12 after Hezbollah killed three soldiers and captured two others in a cross-border raid.

On Sunday, Peretz told the Cabinet that Israel had to examine its failures in the operation "because we have to get ready for the next round."