Netanyahu gives up effort to form new government


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he's giving up his effort to form a new government after failing to form a coalition following an inconclusive parliamentary election.


Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, said he was returning the mandate back to Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin.


Rivlin said he intends to task Netanyahu's centrist rival, Benny Gantz with the job of putting together a new government.

In a Facebook video, Netanyahu blamed Gantz for the failure.


SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYING:

"In the past weeks I made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table, every effort to establish a broad national government, every effort to avoid another election."

Gantz also has no clear path to a majority, and should he come up short, it would almost certainly lead to another general election, the third since April.

Gantz's Blue and White party said in a statement it was "determined to form a liberal unity government."

Netanyahu has been in power for the past decade, but has seen his political strength wane as he faces a looming indictment on corruption allegations which he denies.

Gantz, a former military chief, has pledged not to serve in a government under a leader facing criminal charges.

Likud placed second in the September ballot with 32 seats in the 120-member parliament, behind 33 for Blue and White.