World News

Netanyahu fails again to form new Israeli government, opening door for political rival

Posted October 21, 2019 3:48 p.m. EDT

— For the second time this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a government, opening the door for his main rival Benny Gantz to do so.

In a video statement, explaining why he was returning the formal right to form a ruling coalition to President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu said Monday evening: "In the course of recent weeks, I made every effort in order to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table, every effort in order to establish a wide national government, every effort to prevent additional elections. Unfortunately, time after time he simply refused."

Rivlin intends to give the mandate to Blue and White Party leader Gantz, according to a statement from his office, but only after parliamentary factions have had the opportunity to inform him if they have updated their position on their choice to form the next government.

In a statement, Gantz signaled he was ready to pick up the mandate and attempt to get a breakthrough.

"The time of spin is over, and it is now time for action. Blue and White is determined to form the liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for a month ago," a statement from the party said.

Israel has been trapped in a state of political deadlock since early April, when the first general election this year failed to produce a clear path to victory for either Netanyahu or Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff.

Failing to form a government after six weeks of negotiations, Netanyahu called a second general election, instead of giving Gantz the opportunity to try. It was the first time in Israel's history that a political leader was unable to form a government after an election.

The second election took place in September but failed to break the political deadlock.

Netanyahu was given the first chance to form a government because he had united a bloc of 55 conservative, religious Zionist, and ultra-Orthodox seats behind him. It was one more seat than Gantz had supporting his candidacy but the Prime Minister was still unable to find the six extra seats he needed to build a majority.

Rivlin said Monday his intention was to hand the mandate to Gantz within the three days stipulated by law.

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