The Knesset's State Control Committee voted 3:8 Monday against the establishment of an official committee of inquiry to look into the causes of the Carmel fire disaster and the condition of Israel's fire services.
Three Knesset members from the main opposition party, Kadima, voted in favor of establishing the committee of inquiry: MKs Marina Solodkin and Shlomo Molla, as well as Control Committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson.
All but one of the MKs who voted against the committee were from coalition factions: MKs Carmel Shama and Tzipi Hotovely of the Likud, MK Amnon Cohen (Shas), MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) and MK Uri Orbach (Jewish Home). One opposition MK, Uri Ariel of the National Union, also voted against the committee of inquiry.
Some opposition figures saw the Carmel fire tragedy as a legitimate reason - or opportunity - to bring down the government. An official committee of inquiry, if established, could find Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas guilty of negligence and force him to step down, thus precipitating a severe crisis within the coalition.
"I saw an important need for the establishment of such a committee and believed it was the right thing to do," Hasson said following the vote, "but I was up against forces that turned out to be bigger than me, and that did all they could to prevent the committee's establishment."
Hasson said that he has asked State Comptroller, Judge (ret.) Micha Lindenstrauss, to compose a special report on the Carmel fire and that Lindenstrauss intends to do so.
"I feel that I owe a deep debt to the bereaved families and to Israeli society to find out exactly what happened and to expose those who had a hand in the fiasco," Hasson said.