Wednesday, May 9, 2012

First rifts emerge in new Israeli coalition

JERUSALEM (AP) — The first rifts in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's expanded coalition emerged just a day after the Israeli leader brought the main opposition party into his government, with religious and secular parties exchanging threats Wednesday over draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the government to halt the exemptions, which have allowed tens of thousands of ultra-religious men to skip compulsory military service and instead spend their days in subsidized religious studies.

The exemptions have infuriated secular Israelis, who say it is unfair that they have to risk their lives in the military while the religious study.

The dispute was a key factor in Netanyahu's surprising decision Tuesday to shore up his coalition by bringing in the Kadima Party. Read More