Israeli premier reaches deal with allies to avert elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, pool)

JERUSALEM — 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 on Monday 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.

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