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Netanyahu faces Israel coalition crisis over drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews

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Israeli prime minister has until Monday to abide by a court ruling curtailing subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a coalition crisis and a Monday deadline over drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, as the war in Gaza rages on and deepens the country’s political conflicts.

After an Israeli Supreme Court ruling on Thursday curtailing subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men, Netanyahu has until Monday to present a plan to dismantle what the court called a system that privileges the ultra-Orthodox at the expense of the secular Jewish public.

If that plan alienates the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers on whose support Netanyahu depends, his coalition could weaken and the country could be forced to hold new elections.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the suspension of state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox Jews studying in yeshivas instead of doing military service. The ruling could have far-reaching consequences for Netanyahu’s government and for the tens of thousands of religious men who currently are exempt from mandatory military service.

The court ruling came just days ahead of an April 1 deadline for the Israeli government to agree on a new law to allow the ultra-Orthodox community to avoid being drafted, according to media reports. The government is debating a bill which reportedly seeks to strike a compromise by allowing exemptions with limitations.

It is the most serious threat to Netanyahu’s government since he cobbled together a shaky national unity administration in the days after the Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas militant group.