World

Netanyahu unable to form new Israeli govt

By AAP Newswire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given up on his efforts to form a new Israeli coalition government, creating an opportunity for his centrist rival Benny Gantz to replace him.

Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving PM who heads the right-wing Likud party, said on Monday he had been unable to form a government following an election in September.

He revealed he was returning the mandate back to Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, who said he intends to hand Gantz the job of putting together a new government.

"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," Netanyahu said.

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, in power for the past decade and 13 years in total, has seen his political strength wane as he faces a looming indictment on corruption allegations he denies.

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

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