Israel's president says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended his quest to form a new coalition—a step that pushes the country into new political uncertainty, per the AP. Netanyahu fell short of securing a 61-seat parliamentary majority in last month's national election. But President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu the first opportunity to form a government because he had more support, 55 seats, than any other candidate. Netanyahu had hoped to form a broad "unity" government with his chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz. But late Monday, Netanyahu announced he came up short. Rivlin says he will now give Gantz a chance to form a government, though Gantz does not appear to have enough support either. If Gantz fails, Israel could hold its third election in less than one year.
“This is new: This broadens the political imagination to include the possibility that someone not named Netanyahu could be the prime minister of the state of Israel,” Mordechai Kreminitzer, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, tells the Washington Post. “But I think Gantz will also find it extremely difficult to shape a coalition.” In a video statement, Netanyahu said he worked "incessantly" to form a government and blamed Gantz for thwarting him, reports the Times of Israel. Gantz, for his part, responded that Netanyahu had "failed again."
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