Israel's Likud party announced, following unsuccessful coalition talks with the Blue and White alliance, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a "last effort" to reach a deal to form a coalition government next week. If the effort fails, the prime minister will return the mandate he was given by President Reuven Rivlin to form the government.
If Netanyahu returns his mandate, Rivlin could give it to the head of the Blue and White alliance – Benny Gantz. However, his party, which outperformed Likud on 17 September elections but failed to gain majority, also sees difficulty in forming a coalition government.
Several Israeli media outlets pointed out that a unity government could have been formed by Likud and the Blue and White alliance by using a Prime Minister rotation, but so far no such agreement has been reached. Gantz earlier dismissed the possibility of forming a government with Netanyahu, as the latter is under investigation for criminal activity, referring to an ongoing corruption probe into Netanyahu and his family.
Likud called the most recent talks a "big disappointment", while Gantz's party accused his long-time rival of trying to generate "support in preparation for dragging Israel into another round of elections". A second snap election could become a reality if neither Netanyahu or Gantz can form a government in the coming weeks.
The 17 September election became the first snap election in the country's history, triggered after Netanyahu dismissed the Knesset after failing to negotiate a coalition government following the April general election.