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Benny Gantz tasked with forming Israeli government

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 16, 2020 - Duration: 01:18s

Benny Gantz tasked with forming Israeli government

Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz received an official mandate on Monday to try to form Israel's next government, and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join him in a unity administration.

Emer McCarthy reports.

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Benny Gantz tasked with forming Israeli government

After nearly a year of political gridlock, Benny Gantz -- the chief rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- has received the official go-ahead to try and form that country's next government.

And he's calling on Netanyahu to join him in a unity administration.

61 of parliament's 120 legislators now support Gantz, a sharp blow to Netanyahu who had previously declared himself the winner of the March 2 election.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had consulted with lawmakers on Sunday.

The president has now given Gantz -- a centrist from the Blue and White Party -- 28 days to make a coalition, with a possible two week extension.

But Gantz's backers include opposing forces - the Joint List of Arab parties, and the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu faction led by former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman - that complicate efforts to form a viable government without wider support.

Netanyahu and Lieberman have proposed a six-month "national emergency government" grouping Blue and White and the prime minister's right-wing Likud party, to confront the coronavirus crisis.

Israel has held three inconclusive elections in less than a year, and Netanyahu faces a criminal indictment on corruption charges, which he denies.

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