Israel's Netanyahu loses key coalition partner - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Israel's Netanyahu loses key coalition partner

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JERUSALEM (AP) -

Israel is headed toward a political crisis.

The largest party in the government has quit. And that leaves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in charge of a hard-line coalition that opposes most Mideast peace moves.

The moderate Kadima party voted to pull out of the government in a dispute over efforts to reform the country's military draft.

The move appears to push the country closer to early elections -- which would paralyze Mideast diplomacy for months.

The leader of Kadima had brought the party to work with Netanyahu on ending a draft system that, for decades, has granted draft exemptions to tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.

But with a court-ordered deadline approaching, the sides were unable to work out a compromise.

The draft exemptions have caused widespread resentment among Israel's secular majority, who are required to perform two to three years of compulsory service.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders say their young men serve the nation through prayer and study.

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