Gantz given the chance to force Netanyahu out as Israeli leader

Who will govern Israel? | Elections 2018

Netanyahu's rival Gantz receives mandate to try form Israeli government

Before midnight, Gantz announced he had talked to 14 party leaders, adding: "I will do everything possible to fulfill the given mandate and to form a liberal, broad unity government, and avoid an unnecessary and costly [third] election".

President Reuven Rivlin was poised yesterday to formally grant Mr Gantz a mandate to form a government.

September's poll saw Likud win 32 seats and Blue and White 33.

Netanyahu will remain as caretaker prime minister until a new government can be established.

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Following deadlocked elections on September 17, Netanyahu had tried to form a coalition, but finally gave up on Monday - his second such failure this year.

Starting Sunday, Mandelblit is expected to hold rounds of consultations with the prosecutor's office attorneys, where they will recommend charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust over Case 4000 (the Bezeq-Walla Affair), and charge him with fraud and breach of trust for both Cases 1000 (the Illegal Gifts Affair) and 2000 (the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair), according to the report.

He could remain prime minister and fight the legal battle simultaneously, which he is now legally permitted to do, but that is likely to be tested - for the first time - at the High Court of Justice. The law would have to be changed to permit that, and Netanyahu would most likely also demand that the law be changed so that the temporary leave of absence won't become permanent after 100 days.

Negotiators from Blue and White and Likud planned to meet again on Thursday.

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Both the Likud and Blue and White say they want a big-tent coalition, but they are divided on how to achieve it.

Assigned the task by President Reuven Rivlin at a televised ceremony, Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White party, will have 28 days to put together an administration.

A secularist, he's not keen to include ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties - who are some of Netanyahu's traditional allies - in his administration. Gantz might be able to convince the Arab Joint List, which won 13 seats, to support the coalition from the outside.

The Israeli news site Mako reported that, after receiving the mandate, Gantz spoke with secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman, whose eight Knesset seats could well make him the kingmaker. But if like Netanyahu, he's unable to find a path through, Israel could be on track for an unprecedented third election in the space of a year.

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