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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Minister Quits Over Lebanon

JERUSALEM -- A member of Ehud Olmert's Cabinet quit on Tuesday, opening the first crack in Israel's government after the prime minister vowed to ride out a scathing reprimand by an inquiry into last year's costly Lebanon war.

Announcing that he was stepping down, Eitan Cabel, a minister without portfolio from the Israeli leader's main governing partner, the Labor Party, told a news conference: "I cannot sit in a government headed by Ehud Olmert."

Cabel said Olmert "must resign" after the Winograd Commission probing the conflict with Hezbollah gunmen listed severe failings on the part of the prime minister, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the army chief at the time, who has already quit.

The panel said the government had rubber-stamped the decision to go to war, but Olmert bore "supreme responsibility" for launching the offensive without a proper plan after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers on July 12.

The government-appointed commission, however, stopped short of recommending that Olmert step down. An Israel Radio opinion poll after its interim report examining the start of the war found that 69 percent of Israelis wanted Olmert to go.

Olmert, as widely expected, accepted responsibility for "many mistakes" during the inconclusive 34-day campaign in which Hezbollah rained 4,000 rockets on Israel and Israeli warplanes pounded southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Some 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon, including about 900 civilians, while 117 Israeli troops died along with 41 civilians caught in Hezbollah rocket strikes on northern Israel.

Olmert, who heads the Kadima party, said he would not resign.