An earthquake in the military and political echelon: IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz resigned Tuesday night. This was reported by the IDF Spokesperson's Office.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed deep sorrow over the decision. Olmert, who knew beforehand that Halutz was going to resign, asked him to reconsider, but according to the PM's Office, Halutz's decision was decisive and as such, Olmert has no choice but to accept it.
Despite vast pressure exerted on Halutz recently, pursuant to the second Lebanon war, the general originally seemed poised for the opposite action. In a press conference presenting the post-war investigation findings, Halutz said "I haven't heard calls from my superiors for me to leave. When they tell me to, I'll respond."
Halutz addressed the imminent report by the Winograd commission, expected in February, and stated that if the commission took a different stance, he would comply "as it required." "I chose to take responsibility," said Halutz. "There are those who interpret responsibility as running away. I chose to deal with the investigation and a nation demanding a solution. That is responsibility."
Only Tuesday morning, former IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen (res.) Dan Shomron, who reviewed Halutz's performance during the recent war, criticized him harshly for his flawed management of the conflict. Tuesday afternoon, he presented the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee with his conclusions, declaring that this summer's war "was run without any goal." According to Shomron, "The prime minister instructed the army to halt the rocket fire on Israel, but the army failed to translate it into a military objective."
I could make a make a few quips about Halutz’s poor stomach under fire or his performance as IDF Chief of Staff but his exit is far classier than I expected. The reality is Halutz only made the Sharon’s short-list for IDF Chief of Staff because he was one of the few senior officers who could be counted on to be able and willing to take charge of the expulsion of Jews from Gaza Strip. More experienced and seasoned officers refused to have Gaza on their service record or their conscience.
I am glad to see Halutz return to the heart of soldiering – doing one’s duty. In this case - it’s by resigning, and while Halutz’s performance as Chief of Staff was less than inspired, I have to give the man full credit for taking the initiative by resigning. I’m shocked really, as I had presumed the only way he would have been successfully removed was to be run out of town on the rails.
Maybe there’s hope for Olmert. And just in case anyone missed it. Ynet News is reporting that the Israeli State Prosecutor has directed the police to launch a full scale criminal investigation into Olmert’s activities when he was Minister of Industry, Commerce & Labor.
It will be interesting to see if Olmert will break with both honor and tradition by staying on rather than resigning and clearing his name.