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.
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.