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Israeli compromise maintains coalition

Israel's political leaders averted a government collapse early Thursday by reaching a compromise with two small parties fighting for control of religious funding.

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Under the compromise, the Likud-allied Sephardic Torah Guardians will have control of the Interior Ministry and of 40 percent of religious funding, Israel Radio reported. The Labor-backed National Religious Party will get the Ministry of Religious Affairs and control more than 60 percent of religious spending.

Likud had threatened that if Labor and its leader, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, failed to satisfy the Torah Guardians' demands, it too would walk out. Such a move would have stripped Mr. Peres of the parliamentary majority he needs to rule and could have toppled his coalition government.

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