Israeli ministers advance bill in bid to prevent early polls


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached a late-night compromise with his ultra-Orthodox coalition allies that could avert early elections. A parliamentary committee approved a bill yesterday to extend military draft exemptions to ultra-Orthodox men, but the motion could later still be thwarted by one of Netanyahu's key coalition partners.

Members of Netanyahu's government have argued in recent days over whether to extend the exemptions demanded by the ultra-Orthodox. Rival parties have threatened to bolt the coalition over the issue, raising the possibility of early elections.

Military service for ultra-Orthodox men is one of the most fraught topics in Israel and looked to undermine Netanyahu's coalition government, which has 66 out of the 120 lawmakers. The political crisis comes as Netanyahu is battling a series of corruption allegations. Netanyahu, 68, could soon face charges in at least two separate corruption affairs. He has been prime minister for a total of 12 years, from 1996-1999 and again since 2009.

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