Netanyahu challenger Gantz chosen to form Israel’s new government

The Israeli president said on Sunday that he had decided to give opposition leader Benny Gantz the first opportunity to form a new government after inconclusive national elections this month.

President Reuven Rivlin’s office announced its decision Sunday evening after consulting with leaders of all parties elected to Parliament.

The move raises questions about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future.

Netanyahu’s Likud became the largest party in the March 2 election, the third largest in less than a year. But with its small religious and nationalist allies, it received support from only 58 lawmakers in Sunday consultations, leaving the Likud three seats from the required majority in Parliament.

Gantz’s Blue and White received support from parties representing 61 seats, a slim majority. However, these parties are also divided and it is not certain that Gantz will succeed in forming a coalition.

Rivlin said he would officially designate Gantz for the task on Monday after an emergency meeting with him and Netanyahu on Sunday.

Once officially exploited, Gantz will now have a month to tinker with a ruling coalition.