The Latest: Gantz tasked with forming Israeli government

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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