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Israel ministers advance bill in bid to prevent early elections

Jerusalem: Israeli ministers gave initial approval on Monday to a bill exempting young ultra-Orthodox men from military service, a spokesman said, the first concrete step towards resolving a crisis that has threatened early elections. But while the ministerial committee for legislation approved the controversial bill, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has not said whether he will accept the compromise. The crisis within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition follows speculation over whether the premier wants early polls to bolster his political standing ahead of his possible indictment for bribery in the coming months. Netanyahu has repeatedly said he wants the coalition to last its entire term, which ends in November 2019. The coalition has been at loggerheads since ultra-Orthodox parties said they would not support next year's budget unless a law is passed to exempt religious students from military service.
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