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Israeli PM begins to form coalition

Israel's Prime Minister has taken the first step in forming his governing coalition by signing agreements with two parties.

Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party said it had signed deals with the centrist Kulanu party and the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism.

Kulanu is led by influential newcomer Moshe Kahlon, who aims to carry out economic reforms and lower the cost of living. He is expected to be Israel's next finance minister.

Likud would not immediately elaborate on terms of the deals, but Israeli media said they include concessions for those avoiding the country's military draft for religious reasons.

Mr Netanyahu won the elections in March but negotiations with potential coalition partners have been tough. He has asked Israel's president for a two-week extension to form a coalition government.

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