Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he was unable to form a coalition government in the Israeli parliament — the Knesset — meaning that it’s uncertain who will be the next leader of the Jewish state.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has been in office since 2009, the New York Post reported.
He previously served in the same post from 1996 to 1999.
The Times of Israel reported his Likud party garnered 32 of the Knesset’s 120 seats in the Sept. 17 inconclusive elections.
Netanyahu’s rival, former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Benny Gantz, is the leader of the Blue and White party, which picked up 33 seats.
Sixty-one seats are needed for a majority, which is achieved by partnering with other parties to form a coalition government.
Netanyahu had 28 days to bring together a coalition, but came up short.
His conservative bloc included 55 members of the Knesset.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is expected to give Gantz, whose liberal bloc includes 54 members, the same 28 days to try to form a government.
According to The Times of Israel, if Gantz is also unable to reach the 61-member threshold, then any member of the legislative body will have the opportunity to form a majority over a 21-day period.
If no one succeeds again, another election would be held for an unprecedented third time within a year.
Rivlin had suggested a unity government where Netanyahu and Gantz would each serve two years as prime minister.
Among other issues, the two parties could not agree on who would become prime minister first.
“Since I received the mandate, I have worked incessantly both in public and behind the scenes to establish a broad, national unity government. This is what the people want,” Netanyahu said.
“This is also what Israel needs in the face of security challenges that are growing by the day, by the hour,” he added.
“I made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table. Every effort to establish a broad national unity government, every effort to prevent another election,” Netanyahu said.
“Unfortunately, time after time, he declined. He simply refused.”
The Associated Press reported Gantz’s Blue and White party issued a short statement after Netanyahu’s announcement, saying “now is the time of action.”
The statement added, “Blue and White is determined to form the liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for a month ago.”
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