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Israeli leader aims to pass draft law, averting early vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, sits with Israeli Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, right, and Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan during an opening session at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister says he hopes to soon pass legislation on a contentious bill that has threatened to bring down his government.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments, in a speech to the new session of parliament Monday, indicated he may be close to defusing a crisis that has threatened to trigger early elections.

Israel’s Supreme Court has dictated a Dec. 2 deadline to pass a law mandating the military draft of ultra-Orthodox men, a political hot potato that has divided the government. Netanyahu’s religious coalition partners, who oppose the draft bill, have recently signaled some flexibility.

In his speech, Netanyahu says the bill will “recognize the value of bible study and the unity of the nation.”

The next elections are currently scheduled for November 2019, but governments rarely serve their full term.

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