JERUSALEM - In a turn of events that could influence a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Israeli media reports early Tuesday indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reached an agreement with the Kadima opposition party for a unity government, canceling an early election.
There was no immediate comment from official sources on the decision. The reports came as Israel's parliament held debates into the night over whether to break up ahead of early elections called for the fall. Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir said no final vote was taken and parliament was not dispersing.
Earlier Monday, the Israeli government had proposed that the election be moved up to Sept. 4; the vote originally had been set for 2013.
According to the media reports, Netanyahu forged an agreement with opposition leader Shaul Mofaz of Kadima shortly before parliament was set to vote to disperse.
The reports said Kadima had agreed to join Netanyahu's government on condition it would support a proposal about a military deferment for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The issue was one of the main reasons Netanyahu had decided to bring forward the election date. The deal stipulates that Mofaz will serve as deputy prime minister.
The appointment of Mofaz, a former military chief and defense minister, would be significant in Israel's standoff with Iran, as he has been a vocal critic of Israel striking Iran's nuclear sites on its own.
The call for early elections had renewed speculation that Israel might attack Iran's suspect nuclear program, perhaps within months.
Israel, like the West, thinks Iran is developing nuclear weapons, an accusation Tehran denies. Israel has repeatedly hinted it might strike Iran if it concludes that U.S.-led diplomacy and sanctions have failed.
Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities but has not made an open threat.