After the Shas party officially announced Friday that its Council of Torah Sages voted against joining a new government led by Tzipi Livni, sources close to the Kadima chairwoman said the haredi party's leader, Eli Yishai withheld information from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef regarding the understandings reached during the coalition negotiations.
Rabbi Yosef is Shas' spiritual leader and heads the Council of Torah Sages.
"Yishai led the country in circles for 28 days," a Livni associate told Ynet Friday evening. "He is a coward and deceived everyone."
Yishai, for his part, said Shas was not joining the coalition because the rabbis were opposed to any Israel-Palestinian negotiations surrounding Jerusalem's future.
Sources in Kadima said the vote Shas conducted Friday morning did not include all the members of the Council of Torah Sages, adding that Yishai prevented the head of Shas' negotiating team, Attorney David Glass, from meeting Rabbi Yosef Friday morning.
Glass is in favor of Shas' inclusion in the government.
'Yishai was not deterred'
Kadima Minister Shaul Mofaz also asked to meet with Rabbi Ovadia on Friday, but his request was reportedly denied by senior Shas officials.
According to a Livni associate, "Kadima went as far as it could" on the social and economic issues.
"Yesterday Shas demanded that we agree to allocate an additional few hundred million shekels (toward child allowances), but there was no way we could agree to this," he said.
Sources close to Livni estimated that Yishai was holding talks with Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on a future coalition simultaneous to the negotiations with Kadima.
The sources said Yishai was not deterred by the fact that Livni made it clear very early in the negotiations that she would not commit to taking the issue of Jerusalem off the table during talks with the Palestinians.
"Shas is making a huge mistake by not joining the coalition," another Livni aide said. "The coalition agreement states that revising basic laws would require the consent of all members of the coalition – so Shas should have entered the government in order to preserve Jerusalem's unity and current borders."
Other Kadima officials cast harsh criticism over Livni's handling of the negotiations, saying she should have formed a negotiation team comprised of seasoned politicians.