Israel president tasks Benjamin Netanyahu to form new government

Decision after President Reuven Rivlin’s attempts to broker a unity government between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz fail.

    Israel’s president has tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government after last week’s deadlocked elections, his office announced.

    The announcement on Wednesday followed a joint meeting between President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu and the premier’s main challenger, Benny Gantz.

    Nominated by Rivlin on live TV, Netanyahu will have 28 days to put together a government and can ask the president for a two-week extension if necessary. 

    “I have decided to give you, Sir, the opportunity to assemble a government,” Rivlin said to Netanyahu at a nomination ceremony.

    Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and centrist Gantz failed to reach a coalition deal in talks launched on Tuesday.

    Eight days after an inconclusive election, Netanyahu has no clear path to a fifth term: a Likud-led bloc of right-wing and religious parties is six seats short of a ruling majority in the 120-seat parliament.

    In the new countdown, Likud has the pledged support of 55 legislators against 54 for Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party.

    Netanyahu’s failure to clinch victory in a ballot in April led to the September 17 ballot and left him politically weakened.

    Former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a possible kingmaker, has been keeping his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party on the fence since the election, citing differences with both Likud’s and Blue and White’s political allies.

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