Key Israeli party warns it will exit ruling coalition unless draft exemption system reformed

The leader of Israel's second largest party says Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition could collapse if it fails to reform the military draft and end a system of exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid spoke Monday after a committee meeting tasked with changing the rules ended without results.

Military service is compulsory in Israel, but thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews get exemptions each year to pursue religious studies. The ultra-Orthodox insist military service would compromise their strict religious lifestyle, while Israelis who serve in the military say the system is unfair.

Lapid's party surged in January's parliamentary election by vowing to make the ultra-Orthodox "share the burden" of military service.

Lapid warned Monday, "There will be an equal sharing of the burden, or this government will fall apart."