Ultra-Orthodox Clout May Ebb After Israel Election

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, long the power brokers in Israeli politics, could see their influence drop after Tuesday's parliamentary election.

Controlling just 15 to 20 seats in the 120-member parliament, ultra-Orthodox parties have often provided the cushion needed for prime ministers to ensure a parliamentary majority. They have used this outsized influence to win exemptions from otherwise compulsory military service and receive generous government subsidies for their religious institutions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to be re-elected, may seize on popular frustrations with the ultra-Orthodox community by turning instead to moderate parties, like the one headed by former TV talk show host Yair Lapid.

Lapid says, "We need to make sure the ultra-Orthodox will be drafted to the army like everybody else and then go into the employment market and work for a living."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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