Israel president tasks Benjamin Netanyahu with forming new government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Jerusalem Sep 25, 2019, 10.49 PM (IST)

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

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

Soon after accepting President Rivlin's mandate to try to form a government, Netanyahu renewed his call for Gantz to join him in a unity coalition.

However, the Gantz rejected the call saying that he will "not agree to sit in a government with a leader against whom stands a severe indictment."

"Blue and White led by me will not agree to sit in a government with a leader against whom stands a severe indictment," Gantz said in a statement.

Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a government, with a possible two-week extension.

If all attempts fail, Rivlin can then assign the task to someone else.

Watch: Israel elections - Referendum on Netanyahu?

Rivlin has been urging Netanyahu and Gantz to form a unity government, but a compromise appears a long way off.

Final results from September 17 elections gave Gantz's centrist Blue and White 33 seats, ahead of Likud's 32 out of parliament's 120.

Neither has a clear path to a majority coalition.

Netanyahu received the endorsement of 55 members of parliament for the post of prime minister after the election, while Gantz received 54.

Story highlights

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