The Latest: Gantz tasked with forming Israeli government

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Benjamin Netanyahu

FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2019, file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his party’s faction meeting in Jerusalem. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, that Netanyahu has ended his quest to form a new coalition government — a step that pushes the country into new political uncertainty. Netanyahu fell short of securing a 61-seat parliamentary majority in last month’s national election. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Israeli efforts to form a government after last month’s elections (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

Israel’s president has tasked former military chief Benny Gantz with forming the next government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to assemble a 61-seat majority coalition.

The two rivals were deadlocked following last month’s elections, with neither able to easily form a majority coalition, raising the possibility of an unprecedented third election in less than a year.

President Reuven Rivlin formally granted the mandate to Gantz late Wednesday, giving him 28 days to form a government. If he fails, another member of parliament could potentially assemble a majority coalition, but that scenario has never happened.

Gantz and Netanyahu together have enough seats to easily form a national unity government, but they are divided over who should lead it.

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2:15 p.m.

Israel’s former military chief Benny Gantz is set to receive an official mandate to form the country’s next government but has few options after last month’s elections left him in a near tie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was given the first opportunity to form a government after assembling a large right-wing bloc but announced this week that he failed to build a 61-seat majority.

Gantz faces similarly steep odds, raising the possibility that Israel will hold a third election in less than a year.

President Reuven Rivlin will formally later on Wednesday grant the mandate to Gantz, who will have 28 days to form a coalition.

Both Gantz and Netanyahu say they favor a national unity government but are divided over who should lead it.

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