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Israeli elections: Netanyahu asked to form next government

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to form the country’s next government by President Reuven Rivlin.

It comes after Mr Netanyahu and his main opponent in the recent general election, Benny Gantz, failed to agree a deal on a unity government.

Last week’s general election – the second this year – ended in deadlock.

Mr Gantz’s Blue and White Alliance won 33 seats while Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party won 32 in the 120-seat Knesset.

Mr Netanyahu now has up to six weeks to try and put together a government.

Mr Rivlin has said he will do everything he can to avoid a third general election this year.

“Netanyahu has more of a chance to form a government,” the president said in a speech while standing alongside alongside Mr Netanyahu.

He said he had sent for Mr Netanyahu after receiving 55 recommendations from members of the Knesset, compared with 54 for Mr Gantz.

On Monday, Israeli-Arab lawmakers recommended that Mr Gantz, a former army chief, should become prime minister. The Joint List, a bloc of Arab parties that came third in the election, said it wanted to remove Mr Netanyahu from power.

It was the first time since 1992 that an Arab political group had issued an endorsement for an Israeli prime minister.

The Joint List won 13 seats in the election. If Mr Gantz had the endorsement of all 13 seats, he would still fall short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the 120-seat legislature.

BBC

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