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Reports: Israel's Netanyahu fails to form government; rival set to get mandate

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 21 returned the mandate to build a coalition government to President Reuven Rivlin, who plans to appoint Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz for the job instead, local media reported.

Two days before a deadline to present a coalition, Netanyahu said he cannot form a new government, saying that Gantz has declined to join negotiations, according to Israeli newspapers Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post.

Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israeli army and leader of the Blue and White Party, would have 28 days to establish a coalition government. Failing that, any lawmaker backed by at least 61 parliament members would have the chance to do the job for 21 days. If no governing coalition is created during that extended period, new parliamentary elections would be called, the reports said.

Netanyahu's Likud Party won 32 seats in the Sept. 17 parliamentary elections, while Gantz's Blue and White Party won 33. Both parties failed to secure an outright majority in the 120-member parliament.