Kadima said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to defer a cabinet vote on the IDF conversion bill in exchange for Shas' promise to vote against the establishment of a state commission of inquiry to examine the failures that led to the Carmel fire disaster.
"Netanyahu has sold IDF soldiers and bought Shas' vote on the state commission of inquiry," the opposition party said in a statement released Sunday evening.
"The prime minister is trying to avoid responsibility for the disaster… He is using the conversion of IDF soldiers as currency in the battle for his own survival."
Following a half-hour meeting with Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias Sunday morning, Netanyahu, who had supported the proposed bill all along, agreed to allow Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to decide its fate.
If passed, the bill would grant the IDF Rabbinate the ability to grant conversions independent from Chief Rabbinate review.
Yisrael Beiteinu, which initiated the bill, plans to bring it up for a Knesset vote on Wednesday. "There is no halachic problem with IDF conversions," a party official said, "The only reason for the current dispute is Shas' desire to control the army conversion process, which has been continuously active since the mass aliyah in the 1990s. There is no reason why soldiers who defend the State of Israel and are willing to die for it will be hurt because Shas' attempt to gain more power and control."
Prime Minister Netanyahu called the conflict over the bill "a technical problem," saying that it "can be solved by the country's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar."
"Most ministers are against creating two separate conversion mechanisms," the premier said. "We have no intention of doubting the honor and dignity of those who convert during their army service. They are part of the Jewish nation. There is no dispute as long as the IDF conversions are legal and valid."
Netanyahu made it clear to Shas that if the dispute is not resolved by Wednesday he would vote with the government on the bill, which is still in its preliminary stage.
Kadima called the delay a "cynical and miserable move by a coward who realizes that the flames of the state comptroller's report (on the Carmel inferno) threaten to (oust him).
"Netanyahu is trying to dodge responsibility for the disaster by any means possible," the party said.
Roni Sofer contributed to the report
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