Israeli PM Netanyahu asked by president to form new government

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

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

Mr 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.

Benny Gantz may be given the chance to form a government if Benjamin Netanyahu fails

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

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

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