The Latest: Netanyahu tapped to form new government

Benny Gantz, Esther Hayut, Benjamin Netanyahu

FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 file photo, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, left, Esther Hayut, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a memorial service for former President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. Israel’s two largest political parties are meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a unity government between them, after last week’s deadlocked national elections. The Sept. 23 meeting comes a day after Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the rival Likud party held their first meeting since the polling.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on developments related to Israel’s repeat election (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

The office of Israel’s president says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been given the difficult task of forming a new government.

Wednesday’s decision came after President Reuven Rivlin’s attempts to broker a unity government between Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, failed.

Rivlin and Netanyahu were to give statements later Wednesday.

Netanyahu faces an uphill struggle. After a tight election, his Likud party, along with smaller allied parties, controls 55 seats, short of the required 61-seat majority in parliament.

His former ally, the Yisrael Beitenu party, refuses to sit in a government with Netanyahu’s ultra-religious partners. And dovish opposition parties are unlikely to back Netanyahu.

He now has up to six weeks to form a coalition. If he fails, Gantz will likely be given a chance.


2:05 p.m.

The final results of Israel’s repeat election show the ruling Likud party adding an extra seat in parliament, but changes little else about the deadlocked vote. President Reuven Rivlin has now summoned the two front-runners to again discuss a potential unity government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jumps to 32 of the 120 seats in parliament, one behind his rival Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party. But since Likud’s gain comes at the expense of an allied ultra-Orthodox party, it doesn’t change the total of 55 lawmakers who support Netanyahu against the 54 who back Gantz.

With Avigdor Lieberman refusing to let his eight seats endorse either candidate, both Netanyahu and Gantz remain short of the required 61-seat majority.

Rivlin received the official tally Wednesday from the Central Elections Committee.

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