Netanyahu challenger Gantz chosen to form Israel’s new government

    Leader of Israel's Blue and White electoral alliance Benny Gantz delivers a statement in the central Israeli city of Ramat Gan, on March 7, 2020. /AFP
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    Israel’s president on Sunday said he has decided to give opposition leader Benny Gantz the first opportunity to form a new government following an inconclusive national election this month.

    President Reuven Rivlin meets with the head of Likud MK Benjamin Netanyahu and head of Kachol Lavan MK Benny Gantz

    President Reuven Rivlin’s office announced his decision late Sunday after consulting with leaders of all of the parties elected to parliament.

    The decision raises questions about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future.

    Netanyahu’s Likud emerged as the largest party in the March 2 election, Israel’s third in under a year. But with his smaller religious and nationalist allies, he received the support of only 58 lawmakers during Sunday’s consultations, leaving Likud three seats short of the required majority in parliament.

    Gantz’s Blue and White received the support of parties representing 61 seats, a slim majority. However, those parties are also divided, and it is not clear whether Gantz will succeed in putting together a coalition.

    Rivlin said he would formally designate Gantz with the task on Monday, after an emergency meeting with him and Netanyahu later Sunday.

    Once formally tapped, Gantz will now have a month to cobble together a governing coalition.

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